Killings of Imam and Synagogue President Deemed Not Hate Crimes Without Explanation

Kevin A. Thompson
January 8, 2024

(Image: Salaam, "peace" in Arabic (top) and Shalom, "peace" in Hebrew (below)

An unknown gunman shot and killed a respected imam in Newark, New Jersey on January 3, 2024, in front of a local mosque.

Imam Hasan Sharif, 52, was shot multiple times at 6:15am, right after the scheduled Fajr morning prayer at 6:00am. Sharif had stood up to armed criminals in the past, and was respected in the community. 

The New Jersey Attorney General and Newark’s Public Safety Director have announced that Sharif’s murder is not a bias crime, even though no suspect or motive has been announced.  

CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) has offered a $10,000 reward for information on the killing, and state officials have offered a $25,000 reward.

Hasan Sharif was also employed with TSA at Newark Airport, and leaves behind a wife and two young children. 

Similarly, the stabbing death of a Detroit synagogue president, Samantha Woll, on October 23, 2023, was not considered a hate crime by the Detroit police department. Police have not identified a suspect or another possible motive. 

Both of these murders occurred since the start of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7, 2023. The question remains why, if no suspects have been identified, how can a hate/bias motive be ruled out?

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“Iman Killed in Newark Shooting Previously Fought Off Armed Attacker,”, January 4, 2024.

“Iman Dies Following Shooting Outside Newark Mosque,” by Pat Battle, Jonathan Dienst and Brad Luck,, January 4, 2024.

“No Evidence of Murder of Detroit Synagogue President was Hate Crime, Police Chief Says,” by Raymond Strickland,

Image Credits: Uploaded by WestonRuter to Wikipedia, 2005, from Wikimedia Commons