Portuguese / Spanish / English

After victory against anti-Islam extremist Syrian boy pledges to set up young people charity

British far-right activist and former leader and founder of English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson in London, UK on 11 July 2019 [Luke Dray/Getty Images]
British far-right activist and former leader and founder of English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson in London, UK on 11 July 2019 [Luke Dray/Getty Images]

Following his recent legal victory against anti-Islam activist and founder of the far-right English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, Syrian schoolboy Jamal Hijazi, has pledged to use the money he won in damages to establish a charity for young people.

"I want to use this money to set up a charity to help young people of any race who go through problems at school or anywhere," Hijazi said in an interview with the i newspaper mentioning the kind of support he wants to offer to vulnerable children like him. "Not just bullying, but racism or any other problems that young people experience".

The 18-year-old was awarded £100,000 ($137,300) in libel damages after a two-year court battle with Robinson. The 38-year-old, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has also been ordered to pay legal costs, which reportedly amount to some £500,000 ($686,507).

The then 16-year-old Hijazi accused Robinson of spreading false and defamatory statements about him in a series of Facebook posts after the schoolboy was viciously attacked at school by fellow students. A video of the attack in the playground of his British school in October 2018 showed him being pushed to the ground. Students were then seen pouring water on his face in what looked like an attempt to waterboard him.

Shortly after the attack on Hijazi went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that the boy was "not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school". He also claimed that Hijazi had threatened to stab another boy at his school, allegations denied by the Syrian refugee. The clips have been viewed by nearly a million people on social media.

During the verdict the judge said: "As was entirely predictable, the claimant then became the target of abuse which ultimately led to him and his family having to leave their home, and the claimant to have to abandon his education. The defendant is responsible for this harm, some of the scars of which, particularly the impact on the claimant's education, are likely to last for many years, if not a lifetime."

Speaking about his ordeal Hijazi said that he had been "through a lot" and wanted young people to have the support that he had. He mentioned that he "felt good" to have won the case but declined to speak about Robinson insisting: "I don't want to go into that."

Robinson meanwhile, who has been hit with an injunction that will prevent him from repeating the allegations, faces bankruptcy. Following the verdict, he confessed that he is "bankrupt" and it's not clear how he will be able to pay the substantial damages and costs.

On one previous occasion while serving time in prison for contempt of court, a notorious, hard line, pro-Israel conservative think tank, the Middle East Forum (MEF), claimed to have covered his legal costs and took credit for funding protests which supported him. Robinson's anti-Islam rhetoric and strong support for Israel have made him a very popular figure on the far-right. There is no indication that the MEF will come to his aid on this occasion.

READ: Islamophobia and Europe's demographic shifts 

Europe & RussiaMiddle EastNewsSyriaUK
Show Comments
Writing Palestine - Celebrating the tenth year of the Palestine Book Awards - Buy your copy of the book now
Show Comments