An attack on a Syrian refugee teenager in the United Kingdom, captured in a widely-shared video, has sparked global outrage and prompted a crowdfunding campaign that has raised more than $175,000 for the family.
The video, posted on Tuesday, showed the 15-year-old, whose arm is in a sling, being throttled by another teenager, and then wrestled to the ground at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield city.
The attacker appears to choke the teen by pouring water on his face, while pinning him down, saying, “I’ll drown you.”
The video ends with the Syrian teenager walking away, without reacting, as his attacker and others are heard verbally abusing him.
Speaking to a local TV channel, the teenager later said he was scared to go to the school.
“I woke up at night and just started crying,” he told the UK’s ITV on Wednesday
“They think I’m different – different from them. I don’t feel safe at school. Sometimes I say to my dad: I don’t want to go to school any more.”
A 16-year-old teenager has been charged with the “racially-aggravated assault” and questioned, the British police said on Wednesday.
“The incident occurred on October 25 and has been subject to thorough investigation,” the West Yorkshire Police said in a statement.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said the video was “absolutely shocking”.
“Have been supporting the family since it was first brought to my attention,” he wrote on Twitter.
British media reported that the Facebook page of the alleged attacker contained numerous posts shared from the page of far-right British leader, Tommy Robinson.
Robinson is the founder of English Defence League, a group that has organised protests against Muslim immigrants in the UK.
Since Tuesday, when the video of the assault first emerged, social media users across the world have raised money for the Syrian family, with the organisers saying they are close to their goal of nearly $192,000.
Mohammed Tahir, founder of the crowdfunding page, wrote on Twitter that the 15-year-old boy and his sister have suffered months of bullying since moving to Huddersfield.
He referred to another video that emerged showing a girl, who was wearing hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion, being harassed and pushed by a group, local reports said. The girl is believed to be the teen’s younger sister.
Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer representing the family, told Guardian that the family was considering moving away from the area and reportedly had offers to settle in Oxford.
Media reports said the teenager’s family had fled the Syrian city of Homs, which was under siege between 2011 and 2014 following an armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian war, which started in 2011, has claimed more than 465,000 lives and displaced some 12 million people, more than half of the country’s prewar population, prompting a massive refugee crisis.
The video of the Syrian refugee boy being bullied. The way he just gets up and walks away 😢
Just want to give him a hug and say, it’s going to be ok bro.
— AssedBaig (@AssedBaig) November 27, 2018
This is genuinely heartbreaking…the school's behaviour has been shameful. I just wonder how many other kids who come from similar backgrounds have to go through the same https://t.co/zmhTxaA2qi
— Shafik Mandhai (@ShafikFM) November 28, 2018
Can’t stop thinking about that poor Syrian boy. He’s managed to survive & escape a war zone & countless bombings only to end up in Huddersfield with some c*nt called Bailey who is clearly making his life even harder each day. I wish I could unsee that video.
— Alex 🐝🖤 (@InkedUpSHAQ) November 28, 2018
Everybody who demonises refugees and migrants played a part in creating a climate in which this kid was bullied by a bigger boy. The yob wasn't born a bigot. He was made a bigot https://t.co/vqMYg60oeT
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) November 28, 2018