1. ITV Report

Regent's Park prayer leader returns to mosque a day after knife attack

Muslim prayer leader Raafat Maglad arrives at the London Central Mosque, near Regent’s Park, north London. Credit: PA

The Muslim prayer leader who was stabbed on Thursday has returned to Regent's Park mosque less than a day after he was attacked.

Raafat Maglad, who is in his 70s, was attacked inside London Central Mosque on Thursday afternoon.

He has said he forgives his attacker after returning to the mosque where he was stabbed. With his right arm in a sling and a bandage over his wound, Mr Maglad told reporters: "I forgive him. I feel very sorry for him." He added: "What is done is done, he is not going to return."

Mr Maglad, who is originally from Sudan, said he had seen the attacker previously worshipping at the mosque.

"He hit me. I just felt blood flowing from my neck and that's it, they rushed me to the hospital. Everything happened all of a sudden," he said.

Mr Maglad, who has been the muezzin for 30 years, said that as a Muslim he does not hold any hatred in his heart and that it was "very important" for him to attend Friday prayers.

"If I miss it, I just miss something very important. It is very important for us as Muslims," he added.

Mr Maglad was photographed arriving at the mosque on Friday. Credit: PA

He was taken to hospital, where he was pictured with dressing to a wound on the right side of his neck.

On Friday morning, Mr Maglad was photographed outside his home smiling and wearing a sling to support his right arm.

Shortly after 12.30pm, he arrived at the mosque and was escorted inside by security.

Witnesses told how the muezzin, who makes the call to prayer, was stabbed at around 3pm in an attack the Metropolitan Police is not treating as terror-related.

Worshipers tackled the suspect, a 29-year-old man who is believed to have been attending prayers, before he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder inside the mosque.

Ayaz Ahmad, adviser to the mosque, said: “Everybody’s reaction was shock and horror, the men were screaming."

The stabbing, following a string of attacks on places of worship around the world, has prompted safety fears.

A police presence was seen outside the mosque on Friday. Credit: PA

Shaukat Warraich, chief executive of non-theological group Faith Associates, said Muslim worshippers are now “looking over their shoulders” as they come to prayer.

He said: “Regent’s Park is the most iconic mosque in London because of its size and location, but it is probably also the most secure in terms of what they have and resources and manpower.

“But generally mosques are soft targets. Most don’t have any security apart from some CCTV.

“What we are seeing now is definitely a change in behaviour – women have stopped going and some children too, they have been advised by the menfolk not to come to prayer in the evenings and to worship at home instead, because there are concerns about being attacked at prayer or on the way to the mosques.

“People are looking over their shoulders, 100 per cent.”