On Monday evening, an elderly Muslim man was attacked while walking home from his local mosque in the English Midlands city of Birmingham. The attack occurred on Shenstone Road and was captured on video that has been widely shared on social media. In the footage, a younger man is seen arguing with the victim, who is in his 70s, before setting his jacket on fire, causing severe burns to his face.
The victim was taken to hospital with serious injuries, and an update on the case is expected from the West Midlands Police. Counterterrorism police are believed to be involved in the investigation amid concerns of a pattern of crime against the Muslim community in the UK. Just a few weeks prior, an 82-year-old man was also set on fire after leaving the West London Islamic Centre in Ealing.
The attacks have caused outrage and fear within the Muslim community, particularly as the holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching. Tayyab Riaz, the victim’s nephew, spoke to the BBC, saying, “For 35 years he’s been going to that mosque to pray, and there’s never been a problem … Suddenly this happens. His hair, beard and eyebrows are badly burnt. We’re praying he’s OK.”
Chief Superintendent Richard North, commander at Birmingham police, has warned against speculation about the motive behind the attack and has said that investigators are keeping an open mind. The assault has deeply troubled the UK’s Muslim minority, with Iman Atta, head of Tell Mama, a hate crime monitor, calling for all communities to remain alert and vigilant.
This attack is a disturbing reminder of the rise in hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in the UK. It is important that individuals, communities, and authorities work together to address this issue and promote tolerance and understanding.