Muslim woman murdered in Colchester was a Saudi international student

Colchester police investigate the crime scene on the Salary Brook trail. Photograph: Eastnews Press Agency

A Muslim woman who was beaten to death in Colchester on Tuesday has been identified as an international student from Saudi Arabia.

31-year-old Nahid Al-Mane’a is said to be a Saudi international student at the University of Essex who had only recently come to the UK in pursuit of her PhD for a brighter future.

She was walking on the Salary Brook Trail at 10.40am yesterday morning when she was violently beaten and stabbed 16 times. Paramedics tried to save her but she died at the scene from injuries to her head and body.

Essex Police have said Ms Al Manea was wearing a dark navy Abaya and a patterned multi-coloured Hijab headscarf.

Detective Superintendent Tracy Hawkings said officers were keeping an open mind about the motive of the attack.

But she added: “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.”

A 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Detectives want to hear from anyone who used the trail between 8.30am and 11am that day. They have also asked residents to check their gardens and rubbish bins for any discarded weapons or blood stained clothing.

It is thought a knife or bladed weapon was used in the attack. A post-mortem examination is due to take place this afternoon. Officers will be carrying out additional patrols in the area.

Anyone with any information should contact the major investigation team on 01245 282103, Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Reaction

Meanwhile, The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) expressed its unparalleled sorrow that a member of the Muslim student community was murdered.

FOSIS President, Omar Ali, said, “My heart sank today after hearing the traumatising news that an innocent life had been brutally snatched away. This is the saddest piece of information I have had the displeasure of receiving in all my years of activism in the student sector. Our sincere prayers are with our sister who has passed away and we extend our deepest condolences to her family.”

Omar Ali continued: “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. We will naturally wait for all evidence to become clear – however, if the attack turns out to be Islamophobic in nature because of her visibly Muslim appearance, then it will correlate with the disturbing exponential increase in hate crimes against Muslims here in the UK.

“It is high time that those politicians, commentators and institutions that espouse pernicious narratives about Muslims and Islam take responsibility for the dire consequences of their words – which may have, in this case, led to the merciless murder of an innocent Muslim student.”

With the continued rise in hate crimes against Muslims, FOSIS encourages all Muslim students, especially women, to remain vigilant of their surroundings to maintain their safety.

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