NEWARK – An imam shot outside his mosque just before dawn on Wednesday morning has died from his injuries.

Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé said the man was shot outside the Masjid Muhammad Newark mosque at South Orange Avenue and Camden Street around 6:15 AM.

He was taken to University Hospital and is in critical condition as of late Wednesday morning.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement Wednesday afternoon Imam Hassan Sharif died at University Hospital from his injuries.

"Today we mourn a fellow Newarker and a member of our city’s multi-faith clergy community. I am disgusted that a gun has made its way through our community to kill one of us," Baraka said in a statement."I mourn the death of Imam Hassan Sharif and know any expression of condolence and comfort for his family and loved ones is inadequate. Our hearts are broken."

Imam Hassan Sharif
Imam Hassan Sharif (Masjid Muhammad-Newark)

Not a bias crime, AG says

Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement the shooting does not appear to be a bias crime.

"At a time when bias incidents against members of the Muslim community are on the rise, we know that this act of gun violence will heighten fears and concerns in our state. This investigation is ongoing, but at this time we do not have any information suggesting the crime was motivated by bias," Platkin said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said law enforcement will do everything to keep Muslims and people of all faiths safe.

"My prayers are with Imam Hassan Sharif, who reports indicate was the victim of a shooting earlier this morning outside the Masjid Muhammad Mosque in Newark and is currently receiving medical treatment," Murphy said in a statement.

Murphy and Platkin asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact Newark police through their 24-hour tip hot line at 1-877-NWK TIPS (1-877-695-8477).

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, New Jersey said Sharif was entering the church for Fajr, or pre-dawn, prayers.

"Imam Hassan Sharif is a beacon of leadership in his community and we are praying for his full and speedy recovery. We ask others to do the same," spokeswoman Dina Sayedahmed said in a statement.

Sayedahmed said the organization is urging mosques to keep their doors open "but remain cautious especially given the recent spike in anti-Muslim bigotry."

According to the mosque's website, it was established in 1957 and includes a school. Fragé did not disclose if any students were inside the Clara Mohammad School-Newark located next door at the time.

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