CAIRO – As police continues to investigate the murder of a former imam in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, the Muslim community has lamented the loss of the elderly imam Jalal Uddin Saab who was found dead last Thursday at a playground.
“It is with deep sadness we inform you that our dear Qari, Jalal Uddin Saab, passed away last night,” the leaders of Jalalia Jaame Mosque in Rochdale told Manchester Evening News.
“The cause of his death is yet to be confirmed, we recommend that you do not speculate but rather wait for the facts to be established by the police. Instead we urge you to raise your hands and make sincere dua for our beloved Qari Saab.
“There is not a day that would go by without seeing Qari Jalal Uddin at the masjid.”
Imam Jalal Uddin, 64, was found with serious head injuries at a playground last Thursday.
It is thought that he was taking a short cut through the playground on his way home after eating dinner at a friend’s house in South Street.
Community member Farooq Ahmed said: “The passers-by tried to revive him, but sadly he lost his life.
“The police have cordoned the whole area off.
“The extent of the bleeding and the injuries that he had can’t have been from a fall. The whole community is shocked by what has happened.”
He added: “He was a quiet person. He didn’t interfere in anybody’s issues and he was respected.
“It’s a sad loss.”
Meanwhile, police investigating the death of the former imam announced they were examining CCTV footage which shows three men running near the scene of the crime shortly afterwards.
Police investigating the attack are keeping open the possibility that Bangladeshi-born Jalal Uddin was the victim of a hate crime, The Daily Mail reported.
The men in the CCTV images are wearing hoodies and their ages and ethnicity are unclear.
Apart from the murder crime, the Times has come under fire for its choice of a headline about Jalal Uddin’s murder.
“Imam beaten to death in sex grooming town,” the British daily said in its headline on Saturday.
The wording of the headline was criticized by many, including Greater Manchester Police (GMP), and Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk.
“This is an awful headline, I hope @thetimes can apologize to Mr Uddin’s family and, indeed, the people of Rochdale,” Danczuk wrote on Twitter.
He called it “Islamaphobic, disgraceful and insulting”. He accused The Times of comparing Jalal Uddin’s faith and murder to past grooming scandals in Rochdale.
“There’s nothing, from what I’ve heard, to suggest any connection between child grooming and this death,” said Danczuk.
On the other hand, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police has urged the editor of the Times newspaper to apologize for an “offensive” murder report headline.
“The headline has no relevance to the horrific murder of a former Imam in Rochdale,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told The BBC on Sunday, February 21.
He added: “Your headline and its irrelevance to this case has the potential to cause community tensions.
“It is also offensive to the thousands of peaceful law-abiding Muslims and non-Muslims in Rochdale who are shocked by this murder.”
Hopkins concluded: “I would hope in the circumstances you issue an immediate apology and provide a response.”
Imam Jalal Uddin is not the first elderly Muslim to be murdered in the UK.
Mushin Ahmed, 81, was savagely beaten to death last August 10 while he was on his way home from fajr prayer in Rotherham.