Norway mosque shooting: 65-year-old hailed as hero

Elderly Mohamed Rafiq is being hailed as a hero for tackling a gunman who stormed a mosque in Norway.

The 65-year-old man was among three people at the al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum in Saturday when the suspect appearing to harbour far-right, anti-immigrant views reached the mosque, where the people from the Muslim community were preparing to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Around 15 people had been inside the building minutes before the shooting by a local white man in his 20s.

Despite being injured, Rafiq held him down and restrained the terror suspect with other worshippers until the police reached the spot.

Rafiq, speaking to The Independent outside a nearby hotel on Sunday, said: “I’m thankful for all of the help and support I have received.”

Police said earlier Sunday they had tried to question the suspect, described as a “young man” with a “Norwegian background” who was living in the vicinity but he did not want to “give an explanation to police”.

On Saturday, Norwegian media reported that the suspect was believed to have put up a post to an online forum hours before the attack where he seemingly praised the assailant in the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in March when 51 people were killed.

Acting chief of the police operation Rune Skjold in a press conference after Saturday’ said investigation had shown that the man appeared to hold “far-right” and “anti-immigrant” views.

‘Blood On The Carpets’

The head of the mosque described the assailant as a young white man dressed in black and said he was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.

“One of our members has been shot by a white man with a helmet and uniform,” Irfan Mushtaq, head of the mosque, told local media.

Mushtaq said that the man had carried multiple weapons, but that he had been subdued by a member of the mosque.

Mushtaq said he had arrived at the scene shortly after being alerted about the gunman and had gone to the back of the building while waiting for police to arrive.

“Then I see that there are cartridges scattered and blood on the carpets, and I see one of our members is sitting on the perpetrator, covered in blood,” Mushtaq told Norwegian newspaper VG.

He said the man who apparently overpowered the shooter was 75 years old and had been reading the Koran after a prayer session.

According to Mushtaq, the mosque had not received any threats ahead of the shooting.

The attack took place on the eve of the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-Adha, marking the end of the Muslim pilgrimage Hajj, and police said they were looking into whether any steps needed to be taken to “improve security”.

New Zealand Connection?

There has been the recent spate of white nationalist attacks in the West, including in the United States and in New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the mosque has implemented extra security measures following the Christchurch twin mosque massacre in which more than 50 people killed.

The Al-Noor Islamic centre in Norway shares its name with the worst affected mosque in the New Zealand attacks.