x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hundreds gather in Lebanon to mourn imam killed in London

Hundreds gather to mourn Sheikh Maymoun Zarzour, an imam who was found murdered on Friday inside the London mosque where he worked.

BEIRUT // Hundreds of people gathered yesterday at the family home of a Lebanese imam killed in London on Friday, as friends and relatives wait for answers on who killed the imam and why.

Sheikh Maymoun Zarzour, who was blind, was found dead inside the London mosque where he worked, after he led the Friday morning Fajr prayers.

On Sunday, in the village of Shehim in Lebanon's Chouf mountain region, his relatives were trying to come to terms with the killing.

"Everybody is very sad here. Being an imam, he had special respect from everybody," said Mohammed Ali, his brother-in-law.

Zarzour, 39, was married, but did not have any children. He was a member of the Lebanese Sunni group Jamaa Islamiyah. A fellow member and friend, Eyad al Hajjar, described him as "a very good man who helped all the people".

"Everyone is very upset, but this is the life," he said. "About 1,000 people are gathered at his family's house. We are just waiting for the police decision about the case."

Zarzour left Lebanon three years ago, taking up a position as imam at the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, north London. He reportedly was in the process of arranging for his wife to join him later this month.

"The police is investigating the case, but it is thought that he was killed inside his office," the Islamic centre said in a statement posted on its website.

"We would like to send our condolences to all the Muslims in north London and the UK. The sheikh was very friendly and never had an argument with anyone in the community during his career in this mosque."

Police in London arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of murder, Agence France-Presse reported. Zarzour was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police believe the suspect attended the mosque. A police spokesperson said there was nothing to indicate that the murder was a hate crime.

zconstantine@thenational.ae