A partner at a PR agency specializing in social media landed in jail after tweeting about an encounter on a London street following the Brussels attacks. "I confronted a Muslim women [sic] yesterday in croydon," Matthew Doyle wrote Wednesday in a since-deleted tweet. "I asked her to explain Brussels. She said 'Nothing to do with me.' A mealy mouthed reply." He followed that with, "Who cares if I insulted some [slur]." Users quickly expressed their outrage, reports the Guardian. "What has a Muslim woman in Croydon, got to do with the horrific events in Belgium, you simpleton?" reads one of the tamer responses. "Hey mate I've chosen you at random for my ancestors' slavery reparations," reads another. Dozens also began spoofing the comment. One example: "Confronted a white man in Croydon yday. Asked him to explain Hitler & the Holocaust."
Doyle tells the Telegraph that he didn't actually confront the woman. "I just said: 'Excuse me, can I ask what you thought about the incident in Brussels?'" he says. "She told me it was nothing to do with her … I said 'thank you for explaining that' and her little boy said goodbye to me as we went our separate ways." His other tweets were intended as a joke, he adds. "I'm not some far-right merchant. I'm not a mouthpiece for any kind of racism or radicalism." But he tells the Huffington Post that the woman's hijab meant the confrontation was justified. "If I was walking down the street wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Union Jack then I would be open to some abuse," he says. Police on Wednesday confirmed that a 46-year-old man was "arrested at his home in Croydon on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media." (A US family has learned that two siblings were killed in the attacks.)