Akonjee Case

CAIR-NY to Mark One Year Anniversary of Ozone Park Double Murder, Calls On Area Faith Leaders to Remember Victims

For Immediate Release

CAIR-NY to Mark One Year Anniversary of Ozone Park Double Murder, Calls On Area Faith Leaders to Remember Victims

(NEW YORK, N.Y., 8/11/17) – On Sunday, the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, will mark the one year anniversary of the Ozone Park double murder that claimed the lives of Imam Maulana Ala’Uddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin.
 
In anticipation of the pending anniversary, CAIR-NY wrote to Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu faith leaders, requesting that they share the story of the Ozone Park murder victims with their congregations over this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. CAIR-NY encourages New Yorkers of all faiths to remember this profound injustice and the stain it leaves on our city.
 
On August 13, 2016, the two Muslim men were killed in broad daylight as they returned home from their local mosque. The brutal crime, which corresponded with a nationwide surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes, triggered massive demonstrations in the men’s Ozone Park neighborhood and gained worldwide media attention.
 
Oscar Morel was arrested for the killings, and he is expected to stand trial for first degree murder in the fall. CAIR-NY represents Imam Akonjee and Mr. Uddin‘s widows and children, supporting them throughout the criminal prosecution.
 
SEE: CAIR-NY Welcomes Charges Against Alleged Killer of Queens Imam and Associate, Urges Hate Crime Probe
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2016/8/16/cair-ny-welcomes-charges-against-alleged-killer-of-queens-imam-and-associate-urges-hate-crime-probe
 
“With the continued rise in hate crimes across New York, it is important to pursue justice for those who have been harmed by violence,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director for CAIR-NY. “We encourage other district attorneys to follow the example of the Queens D.A. by working with the victims of hate crimes and their families to ensure justice is served.”
 
“We commend the Queens District Attorney’s Office for their unfailing commitment to secure justice for the Akonjee and Uddin families,” said Albert Cahn, legal director for CAIR-NY. “This heinous crime not only robbed children of their fathers, and wives of their husbands, it robbed this community of its leaders. Every time Muslim New Yorkers are targeted for their faith, it is a horrendous crime, but these murders are a singular example of the climate of hate that has been created in this city and across this country.”
 
In CAIR’s 2017 Civil Rights Report released earlier this summer, the civil rights group noted a nationwide spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes, which rose more than 580 percent from 2014-2016. In New York State, anti-Muslim hate incidents increased by 560 percent in 2016.
 
SEE: CAIR Civil Rights Report 2017
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/5/10/press-release-civil-rights-report-2017
SEE: “The Empowerment of Hate” Civil Rights Report
http://islamophobia.org/15-reports/188-the-empowerment-of-hate.html
 
CAIR-NY is calling upon Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to the organization. Contact CAIR-NY by calling (646) 665-7599, or by filing a report at: http://www.cair-ny.org/incident-report/
 
CAIR’s national headquarters recently launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
 
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app      
 
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
 
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

Man Accused of Killing Imam Pleads Not Guilty

The man accused of fatally shooting a Queens imam and his friend pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Thursday as his defense attorney said the imam may have been killed because he wasn't liked and suggested police may have planted evidence — a claim the New York Police Department (NYPD) denied.

Oscar Morel, 36, was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on a five-count indictment handed up by a grand jury last week. The indictment includes one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the deaths of Imam Maulana Akonjee and his friend, Thara Uddin.

Read more →

After Imam shooting, a Bangladeshi Community Re-evaluates its Relationship with Police

Siblings Sharmin Hoque and Shakhawat Saimoon were at a conference for Muslim youth when they heard that the imam of one of their community mosques in New York City had been shot.

They rushed to their neighborhood of Ozone Park, a growing Bangladeshi enclave that has become all too familiar with violence. The attack, which killed 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate Thara Uddin, hit especially close for them: their home is tucked directly behind Al-Furqan Jame Masjid, where the imam presided. Their cousins lived across the street.

Within hours, the street where the shooting took place, just blocks from the mosque, was crowded with more than 100 community members demanding justice. Among them were Hoque and Saimoon, her younger brother.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/imam-shooting-ozone-park-bangladeshi-community/

Oscar Morel is Officially Charged with First-Degree Murder of Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin

By Rocco Parascandola, Joseph Stepasky and Sephan Rex Brown, For NY Daily News, On Aug 16th 2016, Read Original

The lone gunman busted for the cold-blooded execution of a revered Queens imam and his friend faces life in prison without parole if convicted in the double homicide.

Oscar Morel was officially charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in theweekend killings of mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin as they walked side by side on a Queens street.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown acknowledged the motive behind the shootings remained unclear. Hate crime charges remain a possibility against Morel, 35, of Brooklyn.

The first-degree murder charge was announced after police sources said Morel stashed the murder weapon in a crudely concocted hole in the wall of his basement apartment.

 

The .38-caliber Taurus revolver police say Oscar Morel used to kill a Queens imam and his friend. (NYPD)

He also faces two counts of second-degree murder, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The not-so-secret hiding place created for the black .38-caliber Taurus revolver was quickly found by cops Monday evening, sources said.

Morel had cut out a piece of a wall, hid the gun inside the hole and then used sheetrock screws to re-install the piece, sources said.

When cops appeared at the apartment, the cuts in the wall were obvious, sources said.

Detectives were trying to determine if the revolver was linked to any other crimes. The gun is unlicensed, so police are still trying to determine how Morel got the weapon, sources said.

He worked as a porter at the New School since November 2013, the school said.

"While we are unable to comment on his arrest, we are cooperating fully with the authorities in this matter," the New School said in a statement.

Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 65, were both shot in the back of the head by a gunman who opened fire without saying a word, police said.

“The defendant is accused of the murder of a highly respected and beloved religious leader and his friend as they walked home from an afternoon prayer service,” said Brown.

“Their deaths are a devastating loss to their families and the community that they served as men of peace.”

Cops continued to scour Morel’s home for any evidence that would lead them to a motive, and are examining his phone, sources said.

Sources said police had yet to find evidence he was hired to commit the murders, but it remained an avenue of investigation.

Police also found clothes in Morel’s basement apartment that matched the outfit worn by the shooter and captured on security video, authorities said.

The deadly ambush was carried out with ruthless efficiency — but police say Morel’s wild behavior after the murders led to his arrest.

After Morel blasted the victims from behind in Ozone Park at 1:50 p.m., he fled in a black Chevy TrailBlazer, police said.

Ten minutes later, he was embroiled in a confrontation with a cyclist at Pine St. and Pitkin Ave., smashing his ride into the biker, cops said.

That led authorities to Morel’s East New York home. When approached by police Sunday evening, Morel rammed his vehicle into a detective’s car in a failed attempt to flee, police said.

Morel, who has one prior arrest for misdemeanor pot possession, admitted to being in Ozone Park at the time of the slayings, but demanded a lawyer when cops quizzed him further about the murders, a police source said.

He had no known ties to Ozone Park or the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque, where Akonjee preached.

CAIR-NY Welcomes Charges Against Alleged Killer of Queens Imam and Associate, Urges Hate Crime Probe

(NEW YORK, N.Y., 8/16/16) – The New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the announcement of charges of murder in the first degree brought against the alleged killer of a Queens imam (religious leader) and his associate.

CAIR-NY also urged the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the district attorney to continue the investigation of a possible hate motive.

SEE: Man Charged in Murder of Imam, Assistant Felt ‘Hatred’ Toward Muslims (NY Post)

Imam Ala Uddin Akonjee and his associate Tara Uddin Miah were executed in broad daylight on Saturday, August 13. Both victims wore Islamic attire and had just finished prayer services at the local Mosque at the time of the shooting on the corner of Liberty Avenue and 79th Street.

Video: CAIR-NY President Speaks Out About Shooting of Queens Imam, Associate (MSNBC)

Video: CAIR-NY Director Afaf Nasher Speaks About Slaying of Queens Imam, Associate

"We are pleased with the swift actions of the NYPD, which led to the arrest of the alleged perpetrator of this inhumane act of violence," said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR-NY. "While we are encouraged by the charges filed, we strongly urge law enforcement, prosecutors and the mayor to keep their promise of a thorough investigation, which includes the possibility of a bias motive for the killings."

If convicted, the charge of murder in the first degree carries the possibility of a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights group is asking Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

CAIR: Funeral Prayers Today for Slain NY Imam and Associate

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/15/16) – Later today, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, will join a community news conference prior to funeral prayers for a New York imam (religious leader) and his associate shot and killed on Saturday.

[MEDIA NOTE: Monday’s news conference will be livestreamed on CAIR’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CAIRNational/ ]

The funeral prayer for Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin will be held at 2:30 p.m. after the 1:45 p.m. news conference at Grant Avenue Municipal Parking Field, 581 Grant Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208.

WHEN: Monday, August 15, 1:45 p.m. News Conference, 2:30 Prayer

WHERE: News Conference and Funeral Prayers at Grant Avenue Municipal Parking Field, 581 Grant Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006anasher@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726ihooper@cair.com

Backgrounder: Islamic Funeral Practices

CAIR today issued an outline of Islamic funeral and burial rites as background information for journalists.

There are five main points for the preparation of a Muslim’s body for burial.

1. WASHING THE BODY - Family members often assist in the washing. Men wash a man's body. Women wash a woman’s body. Either men or women may wash a child’s body. A husband may wash his wife’s body and vice-versa if the need arises.

2. WRAPPING THE BODY - The shroud used for wrapping the body must be a clean (preferably white) cloth and should cover the whole body. The shroud is tied at the head and feet, with a piece of cloth (from the same shroud) in such a way that one can differentiate the head from the feet.

3. PRAYERS - Those praying stand in rows facing the direction of Mecca, with the prayer leader in front. The body (or bodies) is placed in front of the congregation. The worshipers make a personal intention to offer a funeral prayer. They say “God is Great,” then fold their hands on their chests. The opening chapter of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, is read quietly. Prayers are recited for the deceased, the Prophets Abraham and Muhammad and for the Muslim community. Saying “peace be to you” concludes the prayer. The entire funeral prayer is performed while standing.

4. FUNERAL PROCESSION - Mourners walk in front of or beside the body. Those who are riding or driving should follow it. Silence is recommended.

5. BURIAL - The body is laid in the grave. No casket is used unless there is a need for it, e.g., if the soil is very loose or wet. Each person present shares in filling the grave by pouring three handfuls of soil.

The Prophet Muhammad said: “(Weeping) is the mercy that God has placed in the hearts of His servants.” The Prophet also said that only good things should be remembered about a person’s life after he or she dies.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook

www.facebook.com/CAIRNational               

Subscribe to CAIR's Email List

http://tinyurl.com/cairsubscribe        

Subscribe to CAIR's Twitter Feed

http://twitter.com/cairnational            

Subscribe to CAIR's YouTube Channel

http://www.youtube.com/cairtv        

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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006anasher@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726ihooper@cair.com

CAIR to Announce Reward for Info on Shootings of NY Imam, Associate

New York Islamic Leadership Council will announce effort to assist families of victims

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/14/16) – On Monday, August 15, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, will join a community news conference about the shooting deaths Saturday of a New York imam (religious leader) and his associate to announce a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.

[MEDIA NOTE: Monday’s news conference will be livestreamed on CAIR’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CAIRNational/ ]

Police have released a sketch of the suspect and video surveillance of the shootings.

Video: CAIR-NY President Speaks Out About Shooting of Queens Imam, Associate (MSNBC)

Video: Surveillance Video Captures Moment Imam, Associate Were Fatally Shot Near Queens Mosque

CAIR will participate in the community news conference in conjunction with New York’s Majlis Ashura (Islamic Leadership Council), which will announce an effort to assist the families of the victims.

[NOTE: A funeral prayer for Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin will be held after the news conference at Grant Avenue Municipal Parking Field, 581 Grant Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208.]

WHAT: CAIR to Announce Reward for Info on Shootings of NY Imam, Associate

WHEN: Monday, August 15, 1:45 p.m.

WHERE: News Conference and Funeral Prayers at Grant Avenue Municipal Parking Field, 581 Grant Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, anasher@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com 

“We hope the offer of a reward will lead to the arrest and conviction of the individual who perpetrated this heinous crime,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad, who will take part in Monday’s news conference. “Once an arrest is made, we expect that the motive of the shooter can be determined.”

Last night, CAIR’s New York chapter held a news conference to offer the community’s reaction to the killings.

Video: CAIR-NY Director Afaf Nasher Speaks About Slaying of Queens Imam, Associate

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights group is asking Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook

www.facebook.com/CAIRNational              

Subscribe to CAIR's Email List

http://tinyurl.com/cairsubscribe       

Subscribe to CAIR's Twitter Feed

http://twitter.com/cairnational           

Subscribe to CAIR's YouTube Channel

http://www.youtube.com/cairtv       

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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, anasher@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com  

BREAKING: CAIR-NY, Muslim Leaders to React to Shooting Deaths of Queens Imam, Associate

(NEW YORK, NY, 8/13/16) – Later this evening, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) will hold a news conference with Muslim community leaders near the site of the shooting deaths of a Queens imam and his associate as they walked home from Saturday afternoon prayers. Both victims were dressed in Islamic attire at the time of the shooting at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 79th Street. The lone gunman remains at large.

SEE: Queens Imam and His Assistant Shot to Death by Gunman in Attack Local Muslims Blame on Donald Trump

“The perpetrator of these senseless killings must be swiftly apprehended and face the full force of the law,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher. “We ask anyone with information about this attack to contact appropriate law enforcement authorities.”

WHAT: CAIR-NY, Muslim Community Leaders React to Shooting Deaths of Imam, Assistant

WHEN: Saturday, August 13, 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: In Front of Al-Furqan Jame Masjid at 77th Street and Glenmore Avenue in Ozone Park, Queens, 11417

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, anasher@cair.com

CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide since Trump’s bigoted call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights group is asking Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook

www.facebook.com/CAIRNational            

Subscribe to CAIR's Email List

http://tinyurl.com/cairsubscribe     

Subscribe to CAIR's Twitter Feed

http://twitter.com/cairnational         

Subscribe to CAIR's YouTube Channel

http://www.youtube.com/cairtv

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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, anasher@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com