A Croydon man who faced a heavy backlash after he tweeted about a confrontation with a Muslim woman following the Brussels attacks has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. Matthew Doyle, an LSE alumnus, randomly stopped a Muslim woman on the streets on 22 March and asked her to "explain Brussels".
"A 46-year-old man was this evening [23 March] arrested at his home in Croydon on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media. He has been taken to a south London police station and enquiries continue," said Met Police.
"I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday [22 March]. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said 'nothing to do with me'. A mealy mouthed reply," Doyle tweeted. Little did the PR partner know that his tweet would become a "hand grenade". Doyle eventually deleted his post and offered several explanations – one being he was misunderstood due to the 140-character limit of Twitter.
"What everyone's got wrong about this is I didn't confront the woman...I just said: 'Excuse me, can I ask what you thought about the incident in Brussels?' She was white, and British, wearing a hijab – and she told me it was nothing to do with her," said Doyle. He has insisted that he is not a "mouthpiece" for "racism or radicalisation" and that he had previously helped his Muslim neighbour who had been burgled.
Four days after the arrest of Europe's most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, Brussels was targeted by multiple explosions on 22 March that claimed at least 31 lives and left over 200 injured. Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Brussels' airport and a metro station.
Several social media users reacted to Doyle's viral tweet with humorous analogies. One user wrote: "I confronted Pingu yesterday in Croydon. I asked him to explain climate change. He said "MEEP MEEP". A mealy mouthed reply." Another Twitter user wrote: "I confronted Croydon and asked it to explain @MatthewDoyle31. Nobody had heard of him ever. A mealy mouthed reply."