Thursday 22 August 2019

Man arrested for 'hate crime' as worshipper stabbed near mosque

John Matteson, 29, was arrested near the mosque, police said
John Matteson, 29, was arrested near the mosque, police said

A man has been arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime after police said he stabbed a worshipper near a California mosque.

Police said reports of people fighting sent them to a shopping centre parking lot near the Simi Valley mosque around 11.15pm local time on Saturday.

Officers separated the combatants and found that one person had been stabbed.

The fight began after a man confronted a worshipper and got into a verbal dispute, police said.

John Matteson, 29, was arrested nearby, police said.

The victim had non-life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital in a stable condition, police said.

Matteson remained jailed on Sunday on suspicion of making criminal threats, violating civil rights and disturbing the peace by fighting, according to a Ventura County sheriff's website.

"We're investigating whether or not this was instigated by (the victim's) appearance and the association with the mosque," Sergeant Adam Darough told the Los Angeles Times.

Read more: Racism and hate crimes reach highest level on record

"We're quite concerned that this occurred. We want to keep people of all faiths safe in the city."

Members of the community said that the stabbing had occurred near a prayer area where locals had gathered, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the newspaper.

Mr Ayloush said he did not know the exact address or type of building where the gathering took place.

Since election day, CAIR has received almost 200 reports of hate incidents directed at Muslims in America, he added.

"It's hard to believe that in this day and age we still have to deal with such hate and violence in our country, and especially in a place as diverse as Southern California," Mr Ayloush said.

Matteson is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

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