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UK: Palestinian beaten after he wished someone ‘Merry Christmas’

Ihsan Abualrob, a Palestinian student in the UK was beaten up by three men on 24 December 2017 [Amar Sab/Anadolu Agency]

A Palestinian student in the UK thought he was going to die after being severely beaten in a racially aggravated attack on Christmas Eve.

Ihsan Abualrob, a student at Durham University, said he was kicked in the head and body by three men outside a pub in the city on Sunday after wishing someone a “Merry Christmas”.

The 27-year-old, who had gone to the pub with friends to celebrate his first Christmas in the UK, was then approached by a man asking where they were from.

“My friends said from Egypt and myself from Palestine. He said: ‘Egypt, Palestine. You Muslims. Are you suicide bombers?’”

Read: Jerusalem solidarity protests continue in UK cities

After leaving the pub, Abualrob said he was approached by three men who started to insult Islam. In response, he said: “Merry Christmas, enjoy your holiday.” The men then proceeded to attack him and his friends.

“One of them threw a glass towards us. Then one of them lunged at me and punched me on my left cheek and I fell to the ground. Then three of them started kicking me in the head, shoulders and body. I grabbed my head in my arms trying to protect my face.”

At one point I lost consciousness. I was helpless and thought this was the end of it. It was so scary and frightening.

Abualrob, who is studying for his a Masters degree in politics and international relations as part of a UK government scholarship programme, said he was left badly shaken by the experience.

“I felt not only in pain but humiliated. I come from Palestine, which is a very conflicted country, and I came here with the hope of having a peaceful life not having to live in fear.”

“It’s my first Christmas ever outside of my country and that is my Christmas treat? They did this for nothing, but for me being a Muslim in this country.”

The student was taken to University Hospital North Durham where he was treated for his injuries.

Police have confirmed three men have been arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault in connection with the incident.

Read: British MPs express support for detained Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi

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