UK police: slain Saudi student may have been ‘targeted’ for being a Muslim

Despite detaining one suspect so far, UK police have no ‘firm evidence’ of the motivation behind the 32-year-old Saudi student’s murder

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Nahid al-Manea, a 32-year-old Saudi student who was found bleeding to death on Tuesday in a park in the UK town of Colchester, may have been targeted because she was a Muslim, British police say.

Her distinctive clothing - reportedly an abaya (a black cloak worn by some Muslim women) and a headscarf - have led police to investigate the possibility that her murder was religiously motivated, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

However, despite detaining one suspect so far - a 52-year-old man - UK authorities still have no “firm evidence” of the motivation behind her murder.

“We are conscious that the dress of the victim will have identified her as likely being a Muslim and this is one of the main lines of the investigation but again there is no firm evidence at this time that she was targeted because of her religion,” said Detective Superintendent Tracy Hawkings, the Daily Mail reported.

Appealing for witnesses to come forward, Hawkings said that “there is a high likelihood” people would have been near the location of the “brazen, reckless attack” where she died.

Details of the circumstances surrounding Manea’s death and her time in the UK are still coming to light.

“The student was stabbed in the head and chest and was killed near the university where she studies. (Authorities) interrogated her brother Raed who accompanied her (to Britain) and released him on Wednesday 1:30 a.m.,” sources told Al Arabiya News.

Although still breathing when paramedics at the scene, she passed away from her injuries, according to the Mail.

Manea hailed from Saudi Arabia’s Najaf region and had traveled to Britain six months ago as part of the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program, sources said.

She had been taking a language course at Essex University ahead of starting a PhD program in life sciences.

The sources also told Al Arabiya News that Nahed - who is reportedly the paternal cousin of a former Saudi minister - was killed while on her way to college and “wasn’t robbed” as all her possessions were still with her when the police found her body.

In response to her killing, the kingdom’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz that his embassy was maximizing all efforts to follow up with the case.

Omar Ali, president of the UK Federation of Student Islamic Societies, on Wednesday paid tribute to Manea.

“My heart sank after hearing the traumatizing news an innocent life had been brutally snatched away,” he said, according to The Telegraph.

“This is the saddest piece of information I have received in all my years of activism in the student sector.”

“This isn’t the first attack on a Muslim student and certainly is not the last on a member of the Muslim community in the UK,” he added.

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