‘Dad is on fire’: Son’s horrifying plea for help after father set alight leaving mosque

The son of a pensioner who was set on fire as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham pleaded for help saying “my dad is on fire”.

The attack on Mohammed Rayaz, 70, on Monday evening in Edgbaston left the retired factory worker with severe burns to his face, hands and chest.

He remains in stable condition in intensive care at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after the shocking incident which happened just around the corner from his home on Shenstone Road.

Family friend and lawyer Shahbon Hussain said he got a text message from Mr Rayaz’s son, Mohammed Ayaz, within minutes of the attack.

He said: “I got a text message saying, ‘my dad is on fire – somebody has lit my dad on fire’.

“I thought I had misread and that maybe someone had set his car on fire but it became obvious I hadn’t misread at all.

“He heard his dad screaming, the family had gone out the house and seen him on fire.

“I immediately went over and the police, ambulance and fire brigade were already there.”

Mr Hussain added: “It doesn’t make any sense, the whole thing is bizarre.”

Mr Rayaz was sprayed with an unknown substance and set alight moments after he had left nearby Dudley Road Mosque, where he is a regular worshipper.

Counter-terrorism officers are continuing to question a man arrested in connection with the incident. He was detained at Dudley Road mosque, where Mr Rayaz had been praying, and is being held on suspicion of attempted murder.

West Midlands Police said on Tuesday it was aware of a similar incident in the Ealing area of London and is working with the Metropolitan Police to see whether the incidents are linked.

Sahir Aziz Adam, the secretary general of the Masjid & Madrasa Faiz-Ul-Quran mosque said fellow worshippers fear the incident could have a “domino effect” across the country.

“He is an amazing guy,” Mr Adam said of the victim who suffered severe burns to his face and arms and has been unable to open his eyes since the attack. “He comes to the mosque, he just does his prayers and he goes.”

Mr Rayaz’s nephew Hamza Rayaz, 27 told Mail Online of his uncle’s condition: “I’ve been to visit him and he looks in a very bad way. He’s not able to speak much and can’t see anything at all. He’s wrapped up in a lot of bandages and we are just praying that he recovers and that there is no long-lasting effects from this horrible attack.”

A general view of Brixham Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where a man suffered facial burns after his jacket was set alight as he walked home from a mosque on Monday evening

He added that his uncle’s “hair, beard and eyebrows are badly burnt”.

“For 35 years he’s been going to that mosque to pray and there’s never been a problem,” he said.

“Suddenly this happens. His hair, beard and eyebrows are badly burnt. We’re praying he’s OK.”

Chief Supt Richard North, Commander at Birmingham police, said: “Our officers have been working through the night to establish what happened and who is responsible.

The suspect can be seen speaking with the victim before setting him on fire

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