A 32-year-old Englishman was arrested this morning on suspicion of committing a hate crime for sending a tweet that, according to the Liverpool Echo, included “racist slurs and pictures” of Liverpool’s Egyptian forward, Mohamed Salah.
The specific language used in the tweet isn’t clear, since it has since been deleted, but the talk on social media seems to indicate that the photo depicted an image of Salah altered to show him wearing a suicide bomb vest. Characterizing Salah as a terrorist is something of a trope amongst racist English soccer fans. Chelsea fans got in trouble earlier this year for chanting “Salah is a bomber” ahead of a Europa League match.
The account that sent the racist tweet claimed to be a supporter of Liverpool’s cross-town rivals, Everton. The tweet was condemned by Everton and Liverpool fans alike. Everton even released a statement on Wednesday, saying the club “condemns in the strongest terms any kind of racism,” and that they had sent the tweet to the relevant authorities. It’s safe to assume that this tweeter isn’t one of the Toffee fans behind the new anti-racism banner made in support of new striker Moise Kean, who suffered high-profile racist abuse in his native Italy last season.
Police arrested the man they believe to have sent the tweet for “suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, and obstructing an officer in the execution of their duty.” A spokesperson for the police said, “Hate crime in any guise will not be tolerated and those who use the internet to target others, and who commit a criminal offence such as hate crime in doing so, need to understand that they are not beyond the law.”