Campaigners today called for a far-right march in South Yorkshire to be called off as a ‘mark of respect’ after a pensioner died of injuries sustained in a possible hate crime.
Detectives believe 81-year-old grandad Mushin Ahmed may have been targeted because he was dressed in traditional clothing as he made his way to morning prayers.
Mr Ahmed died in hospital 11 days after being attacked just off Fitzwilliam Road, Herringthorpe, Rotherham, on August 10.
Rotherham Unite Against Fascism, which held a vigil for Mr Ahmed attended by more than 100 people, are now calling for a march by far-right group Britain First in Rotherham on Saturday, September 5, to be called off.
Phil Turner, of Rotherham UAF, said the group was not in favour of banning demonstrations but would stand united alongside other groups in counter protest if the march did go ahead.
He added: “We think they should call off this march because of what’s happened – and as a mark of respect – and to stop this atmosphere developing where more attacks could take place.”
He said the marches were not supported by CSE victims, did not help them and caused division in the town.
Police have changed the route of the march so it is not in the town centre to minimise disruption.
Det Chf Insp Zaf Ali, leading the investigation into Mr Ahmed’s death, said: “Mr Ahmed was dressed in traditional clothing on his way to the mosque when he was attacked, which is one possible motive for the attack.
“However, the investigation is still at an early stage. While we keep an open mind as to the full motive at this time, we are treating this as a hate crime and will ensure that all possible lines of enquiry are followed.”
Mr Ahmed’s family said: “The family is heartbroken to have lost such a loving husband, caring father and grandfather, who was also a gentle and charitable man.
“Mushin was an affable person who smiled and spoke to everyone. Well known throughout the town, he worked hard all his life, held high values and brought his family up with the same moral standards.”
A post-mortem examination concluded Mr Ahmed died of injuries sustained in the assault but further forensic tests are ongoing.
Damien Hunt, 29, of Doncaster Road, Rotherham, and Kieran John Rice, 21, of Oakes Meadow, Rotherham, are due in Sheffield Crown Court today charged with assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
A 29-year-old man, from Dalton, and a 24-year-old man, from Thrybergh, have been arrested and bailed.
n Anyone who saw Mr Ahmed before the attack should call police on 101, quoting incident number 147 of August 10, 2015.