This is the pensioner who was set on fire after leaving a mosque – in a horrific attack being investigated by anti-terror police.
Mohammed Rayaz, 70, was sprayed with an unknown substance and set on fire shortly after leaving the Birmingham place of worship where he regularly goes on Monday.
The retired factory worker is being treated in hospital for severe burns to his chest, face and arms. Relatives tell MailOnline that he is in “extreme pain” and cannot open his eyes.
His cousin Hamza Rayaz, 27, said: ‘I visited him and he looks very bad. He can’t talk much and can’t see anything at all. He is wrapped in a lot of bandages and we pray that he recovers and that it is there [are] no long lasting effects from this terrible attack.
“We don’t want to reveal the name of the hospital where he is being treated, but my uncle is in intensive care and is being well cared for. We’re all praying for him.’
The attack near the Dudley Road Mosque came just three weeks after a similar incident 200 miles away in Ealing when another believer, 82, was set on fire after being followed from the West London Islamic Centre. He was taken to hospital for treatment for severe burns to his face and arms.
Mohammed Rayaz, 70, was sprayed with an unknown substance and set on fire during the attack
The retired factory worker is being treated in hospital for severe burns to his chest, face and arms
Mohammed has two sons and lives with one of them near the site of the attack on Shenstone Road, Edgbaston.
Yesterday a man was arrested by anti-terror police on nearby Dudley Road.
According to sources, he had approached Muhammad and asked him, “Do you speak Arabic?” to which the pensioner replied, “I only speak Punjabi.”
Seconds later, he was set on fire.
A witness told MailOnline that the man was arrested after he was spotted in the mosque yesterday afternoon. The police were called and community members came down in large numbers to arrest him.
The attack on Mohammed was graphically captured on CCTV cameras and caused panic in the area with officers stepping up patrols.
Video shows the apparent victim talking to a man. It then shows him being set on fire
Video shared on social media appears to show a man being set on fire by another person in Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Monday
A local businessman told MailOnline: “I got a call that the man who attacked Uncle Rayaz was at the mosque. I rushed over and was one of the first to help hold him.
“This is an abhorrent attack and I hope the man who did this is properly punished. We are very shocked by all this.’
Shahbo Hussain, a lawyer who acts as spokesperson on behalf of the Rayaz family and the community, said: ‘We are all very upset and angry by what happened, but it is positive that the police took immediate action and responded very seriously to this attack .
“This attack has been handled by the UK counter-terrorism unit and we have regular meetings with them. The whole community is united in their condemnation of what happened. Our priority right now is to support Mr. Rayaz and his family.”
Labor MP Shabana Mahmood, representing Birmingham, Ladywood, said on the scene earlier today that she had spoken to the victim via video call.
She said: “The victim and his family have been known to me for many years.
‘I worked closely with the victim’s son in the neighbourhood.
“We often exchange WhatsApp messages, so I wasn’t surprised to see this.
What I read, however, was nothing short of shocking. It said ‘my father was set on fire’.
Dudley Road Mosque in Edgbaston, Birmingham
“I didn’t know how to process the text, at first I thought they were talking about a car being set on fire and when I read it again it took me a full ten minutes to think before I knew how to react on this.
“Yesterday I was able to have a video call with the victim and I will see the victim later in the hospital.
“He is such a well known, loved member of our community and it is very distressing to see him bandaged and unable to use his hands or move. He cannot see anything at the moment because his eyes are very swollen.
“As we know, he has very serious facial injuries.
“He could talk and the first thing he said was thank you to the community for helping him and helping the police with their investigation and arresting him so quickly.”
“It was a real testament to his character and he wasn’t thinking about himself, even though he was in tremendous pain.
“He just wanted to thank everyone for their help.
“It was very shocking to see him like this on the video call, especially someone who is normally so full of life.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him today and supporting him.
“There has been a massive outpouring of love and affection for the victim and the victim’s family.
“They are well known in the area and people are pulling together to support and care for them.
“The family are very moved by how everyone helped and gathered the evidence for the police and we were able to track the attacker’s movements minute by minute which should be hugely helpful to the police as they continue their investigation.”
It comes as Muslim leaders spoke of how they fear the horrific attacks on the two men who were set on fire could spark sick copycat attacks.
Anti-terrorism police are investigating links to similar incidents in Birmingham and Ealing, which occurred on February 27.
Mohammed Khalil, 68, who has lived near Birmingham Mosque for 46 years, said: ‘I didn’t know the victim well, but when we passed each other on the street he was always a nice guy.
“I would say he was about 70 years old.
“I’ve lived on this road with my wife for 46 years and nothing bad has ever happened here.
“Everyone has been living in fear since the incident.
“How do we know that more people won’t do it or that another attack is planned?”
Police arrested a man (pictured) on suspicion of attempted murder after an elderly believer was set on fire as he walked home from a mosque on Monday
Police have released CCTV footage of a suspect in the west London mosque incident
Masher Hussain, 66, said: ‘I knew him [the victim] for 50 years.
‘We met each other over 30 years ago when we worked in a chicken factory and we’ve kept in touch ever since.
‘He’s a good man and I occasionally run into him on the street.
“What happened to him was very bad.
“I think he’s fine and recovering, but I don’t feel safe here anymore.”
Jan Smith, 72, who lives next door to the victim, said: ‘What happened was very shocking and disturbing.
“But this is a tight-knit community and everyone always helps each other.
“I’ve lived here all my life and am very proud of our community and how we come together.”
Another resident, who declined to be named, said: “There is a genuine fear among people that copycats are doing this.
“In a video I saw, it appears the attacker looked like he was holding up a phone and taking a picture of the burning man.
“If that’s the case, I’m afraid this is starting a terrible online craze.
“You already have people kicking the door for TikTok videos, now what? Burning and filming Muslims as they burn?
“I hope the gentleman who was attacked is well. It must have been terrifying for him.
Superintendent Richard North said: ‘The victim was walking back from the mosque on Dudley Road, he was walking in a public place on Shenstone Road, when he was approached by the suspect.
“The suspect sprayed some kind of substance on the victim’s coat and set him on fire.
As a result, he suffered very serious injuries and was taken to hospital.
“I am pleased to say that although those injuries were very serious, he is in a stable condition and his life is not in danger.”