Al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Islam, condemned Sunday an attack on a New York City mosque in which an Imam was killed, calling on American authorities to "protect places of worship and respect [their] sanctity."
Two men, including an Imam, were fatally shot Saturday in an attack on Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in broad daylight as they left afternoon prayers.
"All religions prohibit shedding blood, regardless of sex or religion or colour, and it is rejected by all laws, international norms, conventions and human values," Al-Azhar said in an official statement.
Al-Azhar stressed the necessity of protecting places of worship from any attacks, saying that such criminal acts result in religious strife, hatred and racism, and create fertile soil for terrorism.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), "in the wake of the 2015 attacks in Europe and San Bernardino, California, anti-Muslim sentiment has spiked."
The most recent US attack, in June, was a shooting that killed at least 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
Meanwhile, the ACLU reported that in New York City alone there have been at least five incidents of hate crime this year.