‘Unbearable’: Sons of Birmingham mosque worshipper set alight speak out as Mohammed Abbkr sentenced

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Two sons of Mohammed Rayaz who was set alight by Mohammed Abbkr after attending a Birmingham mosque have spoke out about the attack on their father

Two devoted sons of a Birmingham man who was set alight after worshipping at a city mosque have spoken of their horror at the attack against their father.

Mohammed Ayaz, the eldest son of Mr Rayaz, and his brother Adnaan Riaz, have condemned the attempted murder as the assailant, Mohammed Abbkr was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for his schizophrenia.

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The 29 year-old from Edgbaston, who was found guilty of two charges of attempted murder, will only be released into the community if he is no longer deemed a risk to the public. He attacked Mr Rayaz, aged 70, on March 20 last year on his way home from Dudley Road mosque at around 7pm on Shenstone Road.

Mr Rayaz managed to walk to his son’s house nearby. His son opened the door and the victim said: “Son, son, someone’s put me on fire.” Mohammed Ayaz, the eldest son of Mr Rayaz, said: “One of my early memories as a child growing up was my father taking me to the park, taking me to school and spending quality time with me whilst also juggling work and family life like many great fathers in our great country.

"So, seeing my father on the evening of 20th March in the burnt state he was in was just an awful and unbearable thing to see. My father had kept a beard for 20 years after completing Hajj a religious pilgrimage and on that evening seeing my father’s beautiful white beard all burnt off, eyes and lips swollen up, hands burnt and seeing him half naked with no clothes on the upper body was just a very traumatic and life changing moment. 

Mohammed RayazMohammed Rayaz
Mohammed Rayaz | West Midlands Police

“No words can describe that moment the emotions which I was feeling, I felt so helpless and weak, no son or daughter should see their father or mother in that state. The unlawful use of violence and intimidation on two elderly people, in two different cities after Islamic prayers and after two separate mosques in my view, were all planned in advance and carried out with precision with no concern if the victim lives or dies. Furthermore, no consideration of the surrounding public who could have been hurt also.

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“My elderly mother is still traumatised and thinks that the attacker will be released early to come back to finish the job or the attacker’s family might come and attack her and us.” 

Another son, Adnaan Riaz, added: “Seeing the CCTV video of my dad being set on fire, his screams of pain and then reliving the visuals to the build-up of the attack and then after the attack will be with me forever. I would describe the attacker as a coward, this coward does not belong to any religion, society or even humanity. 

“This impact of emotions which I have shared with you will be felt by me and my family for a very long time to come and will remain with me for the rest of my life.”

Mohammed AbbkrMohammed Abbkr
Mohammed Abbkr | West Midlands Police

Ch Insp Haroon Chughtai, of Birmingham Police, said: “These were absolutely horrific attacks which almost defy belief in their apparent randomness and severity. It is by luck and not by design that these two men, who were simply returning home from prayers.

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“Counter-terrorism officers were initially called in to investigate, given the nature of the attacks. While they have continued the investigation, we have found no evidence that Abbkr was motivated by a particular ideology, and so this has not been treated as a terrorist attack.

“Thankfully these kinds of attacks are incredibly rare, but in the aftermath, we worked closely with mosques around Birmingham to offer reassurance and listen to their concerns. The courage of the victims and their families has been exceptional. They have been left with physical and emotional wounds that they may never recover from."