A video showing a Syrian refugee being attacked by fellow students at a school in the UK has gone viral on social media, prompting involvement from the local council and police department.
Accompanied with a statement allegedly from the family’s solicitor, the video shows a schoolboy, identified only as 15-year-old Jamal, walking alone before being head-butted, dragged to the floor, pinned down by his neck and water boarded by a group of boys.
The attacker can also be heard telling his victim “I’ll drown you” before he launches in to the assault at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After being freed, Jamal walks off alone, quietly; despite a crowd having gathered to witness the attack, none of the other students offer support.
The incident, which is believed to have occurred on 25 October, was shared thousands of times last night after footage surfaced. Locals reportedly informed police of who was responsible for the attack, whose social media accounts indicate that he was a supporter of far-right organisation Britain First.
According to the statement released online, Jamal’s family fled their home city of Homs in Syria in 2010, after several family members were abducted and tortured by the Assad regime. They lived in Lebanon as refugees for six years before the UN managed to secure their resettlement to the UK in 2016.
However since their arrival in the north of the England, the family have reportedly suffered repeated harassment. Jamal, the only Syrian boy in the school, was frequently set upon by other boys, with a recent assault leaving his arm fractured, explaining the cast on his arm in the video.
His sister also received extensive verbal abuse, which reportedly led her to recently attempt suicide by cutting her wrists.
Although the bullying and assaults were all conveyed to school staff, teachers have reportedly failed to protect the children from the abuse, prompting the family to go public with the story in a bid to raise funds to pursue a legal case against the school.
After its release last night, West Yorkshire police confirmed that they were investigating the incident, before adding this morning that a 16-year-old boy had been arrested and charged with assault.
“We are investigating a report of a racially-aggravated assault of a 15-year-old boy which occurred on playing fields at Almondbury Community School at about 1pm on October 25. A 16-year-old boy has been interviewed by voluntary attendance in connection with the incident and we are continuing to progress the investigation,” Superintendent Steve Dodds said yesterday.
Barry Sheerman, MP for the town, also condemned the assault on Twitter and said he was supporting the boy and his family.
“Video of assault against one of my constituents absolutely shocking. Have been supporting the family since it was first brought to my attention. Understand from council that the school have taken strong action. Will be following up to ensure all available support is being given!”
Video of assault against one of my constituents absolutely shocking. Have been supporting the family since it was first brought to my attention. Understand from council that the school have taken strong action. Will be following up to ensure all available support is being given!
— Barry Sheerman (@BarrySheerman) November 27, 2018
A fundraising page launched in support of Jamal and his family had already received more than £50,000 worth of donations since it was set up last night. The Syrian family has also received messages of support on social media with many condemning the attack as racist and the result of anti-immigrant rhetoric from politicians.