Police are investigating a prank among Somalis at a mosque near the University of Memphis, reports WREG News Channel 3.
Overnight Sunday, someone pointed a gun at the head of a religious leader in an incident that was captured on Facebook Live. The man with the gun seems to be joking, but the imam, who appears to be the one recording the video, is dismayed and takes it seriously, admonishing the man. But then he continues with the broadcast.
No one was injured, but the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis said they’re “deeply disturbed” by what took place and are calling it a prank involving an “internet famed pseudo-scholar.” The association said the imam did not have permission to speak at the mosque and that the incident happened after hours when the mosque was closed.
“We are ashamed that he would abuse our place of worship for his quest for fame and by the gun incident that happened by a member of the group that was with him,” the association said, according to WREG. “Gun violence is a serious issue in our country and brandishing a weapon even in jest is a serious matter.”
The imam was Abdurahman Haji, 52, who is leader of a mosque in Columbus, Ohio, according to The Commercial Appeal. He said he travels around the country trying to promote peace and has found that Somali young people are influenced by extremists and gangs on social media.
The full video, which Haji posted to his Facebook page, shows Haji hanging out with a small group of men at a table under a tent. The men then go to a parking lot, where the incident happens.
In 2015, Haji lost a religious discrimination lawsuit he filed against Columbus City Schools, where he taught English as a Second Language. The school system fired him after he missed too much school as a result of leaving early to lead Friday prayers at his mosque. He also had created a stir when he complained about female Somali students not covering and being filmed dancing.