By Robert Florida
Essex County Crime Stoppers is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person (s) who fatally shot Imam Hassan Sharif (Call 973 621-4111).
The reward came in the wake of a press conference at ECPO, where law enforcement officials said they will work together to make an arrest in the killing of the Newark Imam.
Officials said the killing does not appear to be a bias crime or an act of domestic terrorism. Nonetheless, they are increasing security around religious institutions throughout the state, so that people of all faiths can feel safe in their places of worship.
At the press conference, Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II said his office is leading the investigation into this “heinous crime,” and that it is partnering with local, county and state law enforcement agencies to “bring the killer to justice.”
“While this investigation is in its early stages, the impact on the community of this sort of particularly dastardly crime cannot be understated,” added Stephens. “We are dedicated to bringing justice to the Imam’s family.”
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said the evidence collected thus far does not indicate that the shooting was motivated by bias or terrorism.
“We know that in light of global events, and with a rise in bias directed at many communities across our state but particularly the Muslim community, that there are many in New Jersey experiencing a heightened sense of fear or anxiety at the news of this slaying,” said Platkin. “I want every resident of our state to know that we are bringing all our resources to bear to keep our Muslim friends and neighbors safe.”
Platkin added that combating the gun-violence epidemic plaguing New Jersey is the core priority for state law enforcement officials.
Newark Public Safety Director Fritz G. Frage said Sharif was the Imam of Masjid Muhammad Mosque for five years, and that he advocated non-violence in Newark.
“He was a community activist who protested against gun violence,” said Frage. “He supported efforts to keep our city safe. His is a deep loss that the city will mourn.”
The investigation is active, and no arrests have been made. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432. Calls will be kept confidential.