A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a second Muslim in as many months was set on fire as he walked home from his place of worship in Birmingham, England.
CCTV footage of the attack shows the victim, who police confirmed is in his 70s, being approached by the suspect on Shenstone Road in the Edgbaston area of the city as he walked home from the Dudley Road mosque shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday evening.
After a brief exchange, the victim walks away from the suspect before he erupts into a giant ball of flames.
The elderly victim sustained substantial burn injuries to his face and was hospitalized. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening but are life-changing.
West Midlands Police confirmed extra officers are being deployed to the area to engage with the community and offer reassurance.
Tayyab Riaz, the victim’s nephew, revealed to the BBC his family’s upset at the “shocking news.”
“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.”
The concerning incident is similar to another that occurred last month in Ealing, West London, when an 82-year-old Muslim was doused in petrol and set alight while returning home from the West London Islamic Center. The circumstances are similar with the victim engaging in conversation with the suspect before being set on fire with a lighter. The victim was also hospitalized with severe burns to his face and arms.
The man arrested for Monday’s incident in Birmingham remains in custody, and authorities are investigating a possible link between the two attacks.
“We are aware of the incident that happened in London,” Chief Supt Richard North of West Midlands Police said on Tuesday.
“I have had meetings today with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police and they are engaged in the inquiry. We are working very closely together.
“We don’t understand what motivated the attack at the moment. That might become apparent as we move through those inquiries.”
“We have officers patrolling the local area to reassure people, and we are visiting local faith establishments to keep them informed,” Mr. North added.