Man who drove into pedestrians shouting Allahu Akbar ‘was just singing along to rap music while buying pizza’ parents say

Ibrahim C, an Austrian man of Turkish heritage, remains in custody in Vienna

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A man who drove his car towards pedestrians in Vienna while shouting “Allahu Akbar” was merely singing along to rap music on a trip to buy pizza, his parents have said.

Police have arrested the 21-year-old driver, named as Ibrahim C, on suspicion of attempting to run down shoppers in a possible terror attack on 29 September.

Witnesses said passers-by leaped out the way as his Peugeot ploughed towards a pedestrianised zone of the Austrian capital’s Favoriten district.

A spokesperson for Vienna Police said Ibrahim had attempted to run down passers-by while shouting “Allahu Akbar”, repeating the Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great” while struggling against officers during his arrest.

Prosecutors said all lines of investigation were open but that a “religious motive could not be excluded” after a copy of the Quran was found on a car seat, with investigators searching Ibrahim’s home, laptop and electronic devices.

“The 21-year-old was not previously known to police,” a spokesperson said. “No link to extremist groups has so far been found.”

In interviews with local media, Ibrahim’s parents have said the episode was a huge misunderstanding, adding that their son was unemployed and had recently been suffering hallucinations after smoking cannabis.

His father, Mehmet Ali C, told the Österreich newspaper: “My son is not a terrorist and he did not want to kill anyone.

“Ibrahim borrowed my car to buy pizza from the shop where he always goes – he was looking for a parking space.”

Asked about the shouts of “Allahu Akbar”, Mehmet added: “He was listening to music in the car and was singing along loudly … he is against Isis.” The father also said the Quran was his.

Journalists at the Kronen Zeitung listened to the music in question, a Turkish-German rap song, and said the phrase could “clearly be heard”.

Ibrahim remains in custody as the investigation continues.

The incident came hours after a jury found a man guilty of killing three people and injuring dozens more in the Austrian city of Graz in June 2015.

Alen Rizvanovic, 27, drove his van at high speed through pedestrianised streets and then attempting to stab passersby.