A man has been charged after a 15-year-old Muslim boy was stabbed outside a Shia mosque in the central English city of Birmingham.
Dominic Palmer, who is 29 years old, is expected to appear in front of magistrates early on Monday accused of the attempted murder of Syed Hasan on Friday at the Idaara Maarif-e-Islam Hussainia Mosque in the Small Heath area of the city.
The teenager, who had celebrated his birthday two days before the incident, is in critical condition with injuries to his neck.
The alleged attacker is believed to have lived on the same road where the mosque is located.
“This was a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time,” said Detective Inspector Jim Colclough of West Midlands Police.
“Our investigation is continuing as we work to establish the circumstances of what happened so that we can provide his family with the answers they need,” he added.
Earlier, Colclough said investigators were keeping an “open mind” as to whether the incident could be racially or religiously motivated.
The alleged attack took place as worshippers were gathering at the mosque to mark the Islamic month of Muharram, one of the holiest occasions for Shia Muslims.
A statement by the mosque administration said it was too early to speculate on a motive but called on worshippers to remain vigilant.
“We must … be cautious about those that may have evil intent,” the mosque statement read.
Harun Khan, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he was “thankful to God that the young man did not lose his life.”
A further statement by dozens of representatives of the British Muslim community asked the community not to jump to conclusions while the police carried out their investigations.
“We urge all in our communities to remain calm while the police establish the facts,” the statement said.