Suspect ‘completely eliminated’ from inquiry as Jalalia Jamé mosque website recommends its patrons ‘wait for the facts to be established by the police’
A 31-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of an imam in Rochdale has been released by police.
Jalal Uddin, 56, originally from Bangladesh, was found with serious head injuries in a children’s playground on Thursday night. Paramedics and police attended the scene but Uddin died in hospital shortly afterwards.
It is thought he was on his way home from a friend’s house after attending evening prayers at the Jalalia Jamé mosque in Trafalgar Street, where he was well-known as a prayer-leader or Qari. He was assaulted between 8.40pm and 8.55pm.
On Saturday Greater Manchester police said the man initially held had been released without charge. In a statement on their Facebook page the force said: “This male has now been completely eliminated from inquiries and it is confirmed has had no involvement whatsoever in the tragic death of the deceased. Specialist resources from the major incident team have been tasked with the continued investigation.”
Detectives said a racist motive for the murder has not been ruled out but they are keeping an “open mind” as to the motive. Local religious leaders have called for calm and for locals to not speculate about what prompted the attack.
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”.
It is believed Uddin was taking a short cut through the playground on his way home after eating dinner at the friend’s home.
A statement on the mosque’s website said: “It is with deep sadness we inform you that our dear Qari Jalal Uddin Saab passed away last night. 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.”
Police have stepped up patrols in Rochdale as detectives continue their investigation.
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