Man in Court Charged With Mosque Fire Attacks in Birmingham and London
Vanessa Pearce and Phil Mackie, BBC, March 23, 2023
A suspect has appeared in court charged with two counts of attempted murder after attacks on men set alight outside mosques in Birmingham and London.
Mohammed Abbkr, 28, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, is alleged to have sprayed a substance on to the two Muslim victims in the separate incidents.
At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, Mr Abbkr, who is originally from Sudan, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address and was remanded in custody.
He is due at a Crown court on 20 April.
Hashi Odowa, 82, was set alight by a mosque in Ealing, west London, on 27 February.
Mohammed Rayaz, 70, was also set on fire and seriously injured in Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Monday.
Mr Odowa received hospital treatment for severe burns to his face and arms after the attack near West London Islamic Centre.
Members of the mosque described the incidents as “abhorrent and malicious attacks on two elders within our community”.
Mr Odowa was released from hospital the following day and is now recuperating from his injuries, they said.
“As we commence the blessed month of Ramadan, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” a spokesperson from the centre said.
Mohammed Rayaz was seriously injured and required a skin graft after his clothing was set on fire
Mr Rayaz’s family said he remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital following a skin graft operation.
The retired factory worker was sprayed with a substance before his jacket was set on fire near his home in Shenstone Road, a short distance from the Dudley Road mosque he had left.
Family lawyer Shahbon Hussain said he had got a text message from Mr Rayaz’s son moments afterwards.
“He heard his dad screaming, the family had gone out the house and seen him on fire,” he said. “I immediately went over and the police, ambulance and fire brigade were already there.”
Neighbours also helped to put flames out and carry Mr Rayaz to his home, the lawyer said.
The victim had been “touched at the outpouring of love and support” since the attack, said MP Shabana Mahmood, who spoke to him on a video call.
West Midlands Police said: “We continue to ask anyone with CCTV, ring doorbell footage or video footage that could help our investigation to send this to us directly.”
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said officers had worked closely with detectives from the West Midlands force in the investigation.
Mr Abbkr, of Gillott Road, is set to appear at Birmingham Crown Court next month.