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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Schoolboy stabbed in ‘racially motivated’ attack outside UK mosque

The 14-year-old had been attending a youth event at the centre in Birmingham

A teenage boy is fighting for his life after being repeatedly stabbed outside a mosque in Birmingham, in an attack which is suspected to have been racially motivated.

The 14-year-old schoolboy was stabbed in the neck and head outside the Idara Maarif E Islam mosque in the Small Heath area, witnesses said. The attack took place at around 1am on Saturday.

The boy was taken to hospital suffering life-threatening injuries, and remains in a critical condition.

A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Witness Azhar Kiana told the Birmingham Mail newspaper: “There was a young man who was brutally beating the boy with a knife. There was blood everywhere — he was hitting the boy’s neck and head. Then the attacker ran off and got into a car.”

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Around 200 children were at the centre to attend a youth event. It is believed the victim’s father had dropped him off earlier in the evening.

Mosque elders fear the attack was “racially motivated”.

Adnan Khan, information secretary for the mosque, said: "We believe this was a racist attack and the young lad was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"We had been advised about security and now have knife scanners at the entrance to the halls, but obviously nothing in the street.

"We believe they were lying in wait for someone to attack."

Detective Inspector Jim Colclough from the complex crime investigation team at Bournville Lane police station said: “Our investigation is progressing quickly but it is still in the early stages. We do not believe it to be terror-related. The motivation for the attack is not yet known, we are keeping an open mind as to whether it could be racially or religiously motivated.

“We are working closely with local communities and have increased our local police presence in the area to provide reassurance and be on hand to answer any questions or concerns that people may have.

“It is tragic event which has left a young boy in hospital fighting for his life. We’ve spoken to a number of witnesses but would continue to urge anyone who was in the area and saw what happened, or has any other information which may help our investigation to contact me or my team."

Senior officials from a number of Muslim groups issued a statement following the attack, urging the city's communities to unite against hate, the Birmingham Mail reported.

“We recognise this is a difficult time for the local community, who have many concerns about the motive behind the attack, but we urge all in our communities to remain calm while the police establish the facts," said the statement to which more than 50 signatories put their names, including Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of trustees at London’s Finsbury Park Mosque.

“Let us, as representatives of Britain’s diverse Muslim communities, send a clear message to the attackers: your hatred and your actions disgust us."

“You will not divide the unity that we as faith communities enjoy and have worked hard to establish. And you will not stop Islam from being practised in all its beautiful diversity."