x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

American University of Sharjah imam stabbed on campus

A former student of the American University of Sharjah is being held for allegedly stabbing the college’s imam at his campus residence.

Exterior of the mosque of the American University of Sharjah. The imam at AUS was attacked on campus by a Palestinian man who is believed to have been a former student. Jaime Puebla / The National
Exterior of the mosque of the American University of Sharjah. The imam at AUS was attacked on campus by a Palestinian man who is believed to have been a former student. Jaime Puebla / The National

Update: University imam returns to mosque to hold prayers

SHARJAH // A former student of the American University of Sharjah is being held for allegedly stabbing the college’s imam at his campus residence yesterday.

Students said the suspect had gone to the home of Diaa Al Suwaidan and that when the imam opened his door the suspect said, “Instead of talking to my father, why don’t you face me?”, then stabbed him in the shoulder.

Police swooped on the university after the attack was reported.

The suspect was apprehended when he crashed his car into a tree after a police chase, witnesses said.

He was identified as Ahmad, a Palestinian with Canadian citizenship, who used to seek spiritual guidance from the imam.

Brig Abdullah Al Dukhan, deputy director of Sharjah Police, said the imam had not been badly injured.

“I have talked to him myself and his condition is well,” he said.

Brig Al Dukhan said the imam knew the man and was shocked when he attacked him.

“Police pursued him and the whole situation is now under control,” he said, denying rumours that a gun had been used in the assault.

Ali Oneissi, a business student at AUS, saw the suspect’s Nissan Murano after it crashed into a tree on the side of the road.

“The car was all crushed and broken,” Mr Oneissi said. “They closed all the gates and he was trying to run away with his car on campus. At the end the police just overtook him so that he would stop and he hit a tree.”

A university spokesman confirmed the suspect was a former AUS student.

Students said the imam had a close relationship with the suspect’s father and would keep him informed about the young man’s behaviour.

The suspect is believed to have psychological health problems and had come off his medication.

“In an unfortunate incident, the imam of AUS was slightly injured in an altercation that occurred outside his residence on campus today,” the university said yesterday.

“The AUS campus was sealed for a brief period of time and none of the faculty, students and staff were in any danger at any time.

“AUS campus security and police responded at once and the perpetrator was apprehended. The assailant was a visitor to the AUS campus and was in an agitated state at the time of the incident.

“It is, of course, most unfortunate whenever any member of our community is injured in an episode of this type, and I am gratified that the injuries that the imam suffered were superficial and that no serious damage was done.

“I want further to congratulate and commend the security guards and police for their most timely and effective intervention.”

ykakande@thenational.ae