Community in shock after elderly Muslim man set on fire in suspected terror attack in Birmingham

People living in and around Shenstone Road, in Edgbaston Birmingham, speak of their shock after an elderly Muslim man was set alight on his way home from the mosque on Dudley Road

There are fears the horrific attacks on two men who were set on fire while leaving mosques - one in Birmingham, the other in Ealing, London - could trigger a sick social media craze.

Footage of the latest attack on Monday night shows an elderly Muslim man engulfed in flames while his attacker casually walks away. As the assailant crosses Shenstone Road, in Edgbaston, he appears to point something – possibly a phone – in the direction of the victim.

Counter Terrorism Police are investigating links to an identical attack outside a mosque in Ealing, West London, on February 27. In both cases, the elderly victims were sprayed with a flammable substance before the attacker set them alight.

The latest victim had just attended prayers at Dudley Road Mosque and was walking home when he was attacked at around 7pm. Locals living in the areas say they fear copycat attacks. Mohammed Khalil, 68, who has lived on the road for 46 years, said: "I didn’t know thevictim well but when we passed in the street, he was always a lovely guy.

"I would say he was about 70 years old. I have lived on this road for 46 years with my wife and nothing bad has happened here before. Since the incident everyone is living in fear. How do we know there aren’t more people going to do it or another attack is planned?"

Masher Hussain, 66, said: “I have known him [the victim] for 50 years. We met working in a chicken factory over 30 years ago and since then have kept in touch. He is a good man and I bump into him now and again on the streets. What happened to him was very bad. I believe he is doing okay and recovering but I do not feel safe around here anymore.”

Jan Smith, 72, who lives next door to the victim, said: "What happened was very shocking and upsetting. But this is a close-knit community, and everyone always helps each other out.I have lived here all my life and am very proud of our community and how we come together.”

Police outside Dudley Road Mosque in Birmingham on March 21, 2023, where a man was attending before he was set alight Police outside Dudley Road Mosque in Birmingham on March 21, 2023, where a man was attending before he was set alight
Police outside Dudley Road Mosque in Birmingham on March 21, 2023, where a man was attending before he was set alight

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “There is a genuine fear amongst people about copycats doing this. In a video I have seen, it appears the attacker looked like he held up a phone and took a picture of the man on fire. If that is the case then I am frightened about this starting a horrible online craze.

“You already have people kicking doors for TikTok videos, what is next? Setting Muslims on fire and filming them as they burn? I just hope the gentleman who was attacked is ok. It must have been terrifying for him.

Police arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder on Tuesday afternoon (March 21). Chief Superintendent Richard North said: “The victim was walking back from the mosque on Dudley Road, he’s walking in a public place on Shenstone Road, when he was approached by the suspect.

“The suspect sprayed some sort of substance on the victim’s coat and essentially set fire to him. As a result, he sustained really serious injuries and was taken to hospital. I’m pleased to say that even though those injuries were very serious, he is in a stable condition and his life is not believed to be at threat.”