FAR-RIGHT LEADER DE­FENDS YOUTH FILMED BUL­LY­ING SYR­IAN REFUGEE

Tommy Robin­son claims teenage asy­lum seeker had at­tacked a young girl leav­ing her ‘black and blue’

The National - News - - WORLD -

When I saw ev­ery­one look­ing at this video I felt ashamed of my­self and why it hap­pened. I was re­ally upset about that JA­MAL Syr­ian refugee

Far-right leader Tommy Robin­son de­fended the 16-yearold boy who was filmed bul­ly­ing a Syr­ian refugee at a British school.

A video of the at­tack on a boy iden­ti­fied as Ja­mal, 15, went vi­ral on Twit­ter and prompted well-wish­ers to raise more than £113,000 (Dh530,000) for the Syr­ian fam­ily on a crowd­fund­ing ac­count.

Re­ports in­di­cated that the boy ac­cused of at­tack­ing Ja­mal was a Robin­son sup­porter and had fre­quently shared his ma­te­rial on so­cial me­dia.

In a video posted on Face­book, the for­mer leader of the far-right English De­fence League said that Ja­mal had been in­volved in an at­tack on a young girl and left her “black and blue”.

That claim was im­me­di­ately de­nied by a woman claim­ing to be the girl’s mother.

She said: “It wasn’t him. It was the three girls. Delete it now. I don’t want my girl’s face on any­thing.”

Robin­son, who has con­vic­tions for vi­o­lence and fraud, has se­cured a large fol­low­ing in the US and UK through so­cial me­dia and has a his­tory of in­flam­ma­tory anti-Mus­lim pub­lic state­ments.

The orig­i­nal video of the at­tack on the male stu­dent at Al­mond­bury Com­mu­nity School in Hud­der­s­field showed him be­ing held down and wa­ter tor­tured by a bully. The at­tacker threat­ens to drown the boy, be­fore pour­ing wa­ter down his throat.

A fur­ther video has come to light in which the sis­ter of the boy was at­tacked at the same school in Hud­der­s­field, in north­ern Eng­land.

The clip shows the un­named girl be­ing pushed from be­hind caus­ing her to fall to the ground, ac­cord­ing to the BBC.

West York­shire Po­lice said: “We have been made aware of a video show­ing a girl be­ing as­saulted at Al­mond­bury Com­mu­nity School.

“The in­ci­dent had not pre­vi­ously been re­ported to the po­lice but we are now li­ais­ing with the girl’s fam­ily, who we are con­tin­u­ing to sup­port.”

The video of the first in­ci­dent, which re­port­edly took place on Oc­to­ber 25, was retweeted more than 65,000 times, with the bully re­ceiv­ing wide­spread con­dem­na­tion from an ar­ray of pub­lic fig­ures.

Ja­mal said the bul­ly­ing had kept him awake at night and made him feel un­safe.

“When I saw ev­ery­one look­ing at this video I felt ashamed of my­self and why it hap­pened. I was re­ally upset about that,” he told ITV News.

As Bri­tons ner­vously an­tic­i­pate the out­come of a Brexit process launched on a wave of anti-mi­grant scare­mon­ger­ing, they were yes­ter­day forced to con­tem­plate an­other con­se­quence of incite­ment to ha­tred, played out in shame­ful scenes in a school play­ground. Footage of 15-year-old Ja­mal from Syria, who was bul­lied at a school in the north of Eng­land, cast a harsh spot­light on the re­al­ity of ev­ery­day life for refugees at­tempt­ing to build new lives in strange lands. So­cial me­dia is of­ten cas­ti­gated for the harm it causes but by putting a hu­man face to the plight of refugees, the vi­ral footage could prove to be a cat­a­lyst for a change in at­ti­tudes. Thou­sands re­sponded with com­pas­sion, con­demn­ing the out­rage and do­nat­ing more than $36,000 in 24 hours to an on­line fundrais­ing ap­peal for Ja­mal’s fam­ily.

In the footage, Ja­mal was sport­ing a bro­ken arm in a case, ap­par­ently from a pre­vi­ous at­tack. His sis­ter had her glasses smashed by bul­lies and had at­tempted to take her own life. Yet they are the “lucky” ones. Hav­ing es­caped the night­mare of war and the squalor of refugee camps, they had to con­front the ugly face of racism, fos­tered in teenagers barely older than them­selves. Many of the 10,000 Syr­i­ans taken in by the UK – a frac­tion of the num­ber re­set­tled in other Euro­pean coun­tries – have found a wel­come in their new com­mu­ni­ties. Among them are 24 Syr­ian fam­i­lies re­set­tled in Bute, an ar­chi­pel­ago off the west coast of Scot­land in the Firth of Clyde. Af­ter an ini­tially frosty re­cep­tion, they have been em­braced fully into the fold.

But re­set­tle­ment has been un­even; so have at­ti­tudes. The mo­ral cul­pa­bil­ity for this act does not lie with Ja­mal’s tor­men­tor alone. No child is born with hate in their souls. They learn it from their par­ents, their com­mu­ni­ties and their peers, who are, in turn, in­fected by the pro­pa­ganda of politi­cians look­ing to de­monise “the other”. Ja­mal said he was “ashamed” by the footage. It is those who seek to prop­a­gate such ha­tred who should feel shame when faced with the kind­ness of his bene­fac­tors.

AFP

Anti-Mus­lim ex­trem­ist Tommy Robin­son in­ter­vened in a row over the bul­ly­ing of a Syr­ian refugee at an English school

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