NYC mosque shooting
Community members pray outside the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Ozone Park after imam Maulama Akonjee and friend Thara Uddin were killed in the Queens borough of New York City Kena Betancur/ AFP

People in the US are offering to walk Muslims to mosque following the murder of a New York imam and his assistant, using the social media hashtag 'I'll walk with you'.

Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, were shot dead in Ozone Park, Queens while on their way home from midday prayers at 1.50pm local time, in what the community in the area are calling a hate crime.

And following the shooting near the al-Furqan Jame mosque, people in the US are offering to walk to mosque with anyone who is afraid to go on their own.

One Twitter user wrote: "To any of my fellow Americans out there, regardless of your Faith, this is a free nation, and #IllWalkWithYou."

While many simply stated they stood with their Muslim American brothers and sisters, others criticised the language used by political figures to demonise Muslims, many citing Donald Trump's 'ban Muslims' suggestion as contributing to the problem.

And the community in Ozone Park, Queens believe the attack was not random and the imam and his assistant were shot in the street by someone who disliked Muslims, although police have not yet established what the shooters motive was as he remains at large.

However, the New York Police Department's Hate Crime unit is reportedly involved in the investigation, and the shooter hating Muslims has not been ruled out as a motive for the fatal attack.

Uddin's nephew Tamim Uddin told the Washington Post: "The guy came from nowhere and started shooting at them. It was a hate crime.

"They don't like Muslims – that's it."