Mosque Uk
The Imam was said to be returning home from a Rochdale mosque when he was found with serious head injuriesGetty

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a "popular" Iman from Greater Manchester died after being discovered with serious head injuries at a children's play area. The man, Qari Jalal Uddin, was reportedly on his way home from Jalalia Jamé Mosque in Rochdale when he was found injured in the playground.

Police officers attended the scene in South Street in Wardleworth, Rochdale at about 9pm yesterday (18 February). He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries but died a short time later.

Greater Manchester Police have said they have now arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murder. The suspect is currently being questioned by officers.

The Ramadhan Foundation in Greater Manchester has condemned the incident, calling it "shocking and tragic". Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the foundation, said: "Whilst it is too early to speculate about the circumstances of the murder, we would urge the community of Rochdale to stay united and calm.

"Qari Jalal Uddin was on his return home from Jalalia Jamé Mosque when he died. We pay tribute to him and his unique contribution to our community in Rochdale. We offer our sincere condolences and prayers to his family, friends and the wider community.

"We would urge all local mosques in Rochdale to consider emergency security precautions and facilities to help local people return home safely from the mosque. Furthermore, mosques should also consider buddying various people together to ensure vulnerable people are supported."

The Rochdale Council of Mosques also urged everyone to remain calm and "let the police complete their investigations". They added in a statement: "It's best that we don't speculate – if you have any info that will help then please contact the police on 101 or you can contact crimestoppers anonymously."

Meanwhile Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed they will be deploying extra patrols in the area to reassure the local community.

Detective superintendent Jon Chadwick of GMP's Serious Crime Division said: "Our investigation is at an early stage but we are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area near to where he was found in Wardleworth last night, as we work to establish how this man came to suffer his head injury."

Superintendent Rick Jackson added: "We know local people will be worried when they hear the news of what has happened and we have extra patrols in place to try and reassure the community.

"If you have concerns or believe you may have seen, heard or know anything that can assist this investigation then please approach one of these officers. There has been a lot of speculation on social media about what has happened, but I would to ask that people allow us to investigate this incident and if you have information then please contact police."