A man attacked the imam and a member of the congregation with a knife at the Fatih Mosque in İstanbul on Monday, seriously injuring them, after he was removed from the mosque for shouting an anti-Israel slogan, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday, citing the state-run Anadolu agency.
According to Anadolu, Ömer Salgın, 40, who shouted, “Allahu Akbar, down with Israel. Wake up, Muslims,” during the evening prayer on Monday, was warned by Imam Galip Usta not to shout inside the mosque and was subsequently removed by security guards.
Following the prayer, Salgın reportedly went to the imam’s office saying he wanted to talk to him. He then stabbed the imam and Bilal Erdem, an attendee at the service who tried to restrain him.
Salgın was detained after the attack, while the two injured men were taken to the hospital for treatment.
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the incident.
According to a statement from Bezmialem Vakıf University, Usta is in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries, while Erdem is also on the road to recovery.
Anadolu said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Usta to convey his get-well-soon wishes.
While Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş condemned the attack and expressed hope that it would be an isolated incident, the president of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, said they would follow up on the legal process.
Özgür Özel, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), also wished a speedy recovery to Usta and Erdem.
“I hope all the details of the attack will be revealed and that similar incidents will not happen again in our houses of worship,” he added on X..
Anti-Israel sentiment has been running high in Turkey since Israel began pounding the Palestinian enclave of Gaza in retaliation for a surprise attack by Hamas militants in Israel on October 7 that claimed more than 1,200 lives.
Israeli airstrikes and an ongoing ground operation in Gaza have killed at least 22,000 Palestinians, while more than 58,000 were injured. About 7,000 more are reportedly missing and most are likely dead.