The attack in Birmingham comes weeks after a similar incident in London, in which the suspect fled.
A man is arrested and questioned in England’s Midlands after an elderly Muslim was attacked as he walked home from his local mosque, just weeks after a similar attack in London.
Video of the incident, which took place in the city of Birmingham on Monday evening, was shared massively on social media.
The clip shows a younger man arguing with the older victim, who is in his 70s, on Shenstone Road. Later, the victim’s jacket is set on fire and he is heard screaming in pain.
“He spoke to (the victim) briefly before spraying an unknown substance and then his jacket was set on fire, causing burns to his face,” West Midlands Police said in a statement.
The victim was taken to hospital with serious injuries and is expected to survive.
West Midlands Police told Al Jazeera an update on the case is expected later on Wednesday.
Tayyab Riaz, the victim’s cousin, told the BBC: “For 35 years he has been going to that mosque to pray and there has never been a problem… Suddenly this is happening. His hair, beard and eyebrows are badly burned. We pray he is okay.”
Chief Inspector Richard North, Birmingham Police Commander, said the detectives were “open to the attacker’s motive” while warning of speculation.
British police are looking for a suspect who set fire to a Muslim man as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham.
Police said the man suffered severe but non-life-threatening burns to his face ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/s2qzepASAQ
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 21, 2023
The attack near the Dudley Road Mosque has shocked Britain’s Muslim minority as they prepare to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.
Zarah Sultana, an MP from the opposition Labor party, said she was “shocked”.
Amir Khan, a doctor and author, tweeted: “This makes me sick, an elderly man being set on fire as he walks home from his place of worship… I am speechless.”
The anti-terrorism police are expected to be involved in investigations due to fears of a worrying crime pattern.
On February 27, a man approached an 82-year-old as they were both leaving the West London Islamic Center in Ealing.
They spoke for about five minutes, then the suspect dipped the victim in a liquid, believed to be petrol, before setting him on fire with a lighter, London’s Metropolitan Police said.
“He then ran away,” the Met said, when police issued an appeal to find the suspect and posted a photo of him on its website.
In that case, the victim was treated for severe burns to his face and arms.
“The two recent highly disturbing incidents where two elderly Muslims were set on fire as they left mosques are shocking,” Iman Atta, head of Tell Mama, a hate crimes monitor, told Al Jazeera.
“We ask all communities to remain alert and vigilant, whether in a mosque or in a public space. This is especially true as Ramadan is just around the corner and the safety and security of our communities remains a top priority.”
#BREAK | A man has now been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
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— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) March 21, 2023