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Arrested man eliminated from inquiry as police seek killer of religious leader

Published 20/02/2016

Investigators at the scene of the fatal attack
Investigators at the scene of the fatal attack

Murder squad detectives have released a man arrested after a Muslim religious leader was left for dead from a brutal attack while walking home from a mosque.

Jalal Uddin died in hospital from serious head injuries after being assaulted in a children's playground in Rochdale on Thursday night.

Muslims have been asked to remain calm amid fears of a racist attack on the 64-year-old, who was well known as a prayer-leader or qari, at the Jalalia Jaame Masjid mosque in Rochdale.

Shortly before 9pm on Thursday police were called by paramedics to the play area at the end of South Street in the Wardleworth area of the town, following reports that a man had been found injured.

Mr Uddin was taken to hospital but died a short time later. A Home Office post-mortem examination concluded he died from a head injury.

A 31-year-old man arrested yesterday on suspicion of murder has now been released without charge and eliminated from police inquiries.

Detectives say a racist motive for the murder has not been ruled out but they are keeping an "open mind".

Local religious leaders have called for calm, asked police be allowed to do their work and for locals not to speculate what prompted the attack.

It is now believed he was assaulted sometime between 8:41pm and 8:48pm after he was walking home from a friend's house on South Street.

Detective Chief Inspector Terry Crompton of Greater Manchester Police, said: "We have carried out a significant number of inquiries since Thursday evening to establish what happened to Jalal that led to his tragic death, and we are providing support to his family.

"Following extensive analysis of CCTV in the area, we now know that Jalal walked into the park from the South Street entrance at 8.41pm. He was then found injured seven minutes later by a passing member of the public.

"We are keen to hear from anyone who saw anything in the South Street area around that time, and from people who were using the park that evening. You may think your information is trivial but it could be crucial to our investigation.

"We are still working to establish the exact circumstances surrounding how Jalal came to suffer his injuries and we are keeping an open mind as to the motivation behind this attack, with a number of lines of inquiry currently being investigated.

"Understandably, news of this attack has caused concern in the local area and we have extra patrols in place to try and reassure the community.

"There has been a lot of speculation on social media about what happened and what may have been the reason for this attack, but I would urge people to refrain from making assumptions and please contact us with any information they have which may assist us."

Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain said: "We pay our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the community in Rochdale, for the loss of a man who played a significant role within the community and will be sorely missed.

"It is not the first time that an imam has been murdered whilst on the way home from mosque, and we would urge the community to be vigilant and offer support and assistance whilst travelling."

Anyone with information should please contact officers at GMP's major incident team on 0161 856 4711 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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