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Syrian refugee, 15, ‘waterboarded’ by bully tells how he cries himself to sleep

A Syrian boy who was beaten up and ‘waterboarded’ on a school field was so upset and ‘ashamed’ of the attack he dreaded returning to school and cried himself to sleep, he has revealed in a heartbreaking interview.

The 15-year-old whose family escaped war in Syria and were relocated to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, has suffered two years of bullying since his arrival – including the brutal attack by a much bigger boy, aged 16.

Speaking to ITV News last night the boy, whose name cannot be given, said he pleaded with his father not to send him back to Almondbury Community School after the attack in October, which was shared on social media this week.

He said: ‘I was feeling unsafe everywhere – even to go to the shop.’

‘I was feeling like I couldn’t study or do my homework.

‘I woke up at night and just started crying because of this problem.

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

The family fled from the Syrian city of Homs which was under siege from May 2011 to 2014 following protests against dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Yet since arriving in the UK, both the boy and his sister who is 14-years-old have been bullied, with the younger child having her hijab torn off in the playground. 

The young Syrian boy was so distressed by the bullying he said he woke up crying in the middle of the night 

The shocking video of the assault on the boy sparked national outcry and a huge outpouring of support after it was shared thousands of times on social media. 

The victim, who came to Huddersfield two years ago, is headbutted, dragged to the floor by his neck and then pinned down by his throat, despite already having his broken arm in a cast.

The 16-year-old boy attacking him shouts: ‘I’ll drown you.’

He then tries to force water from a bottle into the boy’s mouth as his victim struggles underneath him.

After the attack, the victim frees himself and calmly walks away. 

Despite a large crowd gathering, none of the other children follow him as he walks off, alone.

The victim, in white and wearing a blue cast on his left arm, was approached on the school field as others looked on

The bully approaches his victim before headbutting him

More than £120,000 has been raised for a teenage Syrian refugee after a video of him being bullied at school was posted online. The victim, in white and wearing a blue cast on his left arm, was approached on the school field as others looked on

In the video, the attacker, carrying a water bottle, headbutts him, and pushes him to the ground

‘I don’t feel safe at school. Sometimes I say to my dad I don’t want to go to school anymore,’ he said to ITV.

‘I was disappointed when I came to the UK because I was thinking my life is going to be good, my future is going to be really good if I study at school. And I didn’t achieve any of that.’

The footage was eventually circulated after the family said the school, police and council did nothing to help them.

Within hours of outcry, police said a boy, 16, will be charged with assault.

Despite the video going viral and thousands of people being outraged, the other boy involved denied being a bully. 

The boy claimed he had not been bullying his classmate before the incident and was previously on ‘good terms’ with him.

The teenager charged over the attack issued a handwritten statement to the Sun Online.

‘I regret [the incident] but wish to make it clear I was not responsible for breaking his arm, nor had I been bullying him over a period of time as has been reported,’ he wrote.

The handwritten note released by the alleged attacker in which he claimed the incident ‘was not racial’ 

He continued: ‘The incident was isolated and came about from an altercation between us earlier that day. The incident was not racial as up to that time we had been on good terms.

‘I have now been charged with common assault, not racially-aggravated as has been reported.’

However, thousands have flocked to support the teenager from Homs and bemoaned how he escaped war only to be abused by youngsters in the UK. 

Yesterday it also emerged the victim’s sister was assaulted at school.

The girl, who has been subject to so much playground abuse she once tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists with a shard of glass, was attacked yesterday by her tormentors.

In the awful new video the young sister can be seen in the playground, wearing a bright pink headscarf before the attack begins.

As she stands facing another – much larger girl – another child comes and pushes her from behind.

As she turns on her heel the larger girl shoves her using both hands and she tumbles down a hill.

The larger girl runs after her and also tumbles as she grabs at the smaller girl’s headscarf.

The footage ends there but it is claimed the girl had her headscarf completely torn off.  

A lawyer for the family confirmed to MailOnline that the boy and his sister have been subjected to so much abuse that their investigators contacted police, the local council and the the local MP.

Footage of the girl, 14, being shoved by two girls in the playground has also emerged 

The Syrian girl's headscarf is tugged at as she is shoved and falls down a grassy slope at school

The Syrian girl’s headscarf is tugged at as she is shoved and falls down a grassy slope at school

The girl landed at the bottom of the slope with the much larger girl on top of her as her scarf was torn from her head

The girl landed at the bottom of the slope with the much larger girl on top of her as her scarf was torn from her head

Mohammed Akunjee, of Farooq Bajwa & Co, based in Mayfair, London, said: ‘We have been investigating this since the family contacted us about the abuse they are receiving.

‘The boy and his sister have been subjected to so much abuse that we decided to contact the MP in this case.

‘The same day the video went viral on social media of [the boy] being attacked, his sister was also attacked.

‘She had her headscarf ripped off in the playground. This is despite us complaining to the school about the abuse.

‘She has also attempted suicide, and tried to cut her wrists with a shard of glass the level of bullying got so much.’

Mr Akunjee explained how the family had been victimised and the children called ‘Arabs’ at school. 

The bully then holds his victim’s throat she her pours water over his face

The attacker then loosens his grip, the victim gets up and calmly walks away as other students watch on

MP Nadine Dorries called for 'serious action' over the bullying and added the UK should 'open its arms' to those facing persecution 

MP Nadine Dorries called for ‘serious action’ over the bullying and added the UK should ‘open its arms’ to those facing persecution 

West Yorkshire Police said the teenager featuring in the initial video has been interviewed and reported for summons over the incident on a school field and will appear before a youth court ‘in due course.’ 

The boy was quizzed over the footage in which the 15-year-old victim, whose arm is in a cast, is headbutted, then pinned down and squirted in the face with water.

This morning the total on a GoFundMe page raising money for the family had topped £120,000 and was continuing to rise.

Teenager accused of ‘water-board’ attack on 15-year-old Syrian refugee is ‘a Britain First supporter’ who has shared posts from Tommy Robinson on Facebook

The schoolboy who allegedly ‘waterboarded’ a Syrian refugee on a school field shared posts from the Facebook page of EDL founder Tommy Robinson.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also uploaded links to right wing organisation Britain First, it emerged today.

In one he said the organisation ‘do right’ and re-posted links to Robinson mocking burkas.

In another post he shared a link to an extremist blog that threatened to ‘expose Islam’ and alleged that Muslims claimed raping white British children was ‘part of their culture’.

He also shared a parody video with an actor dressed up as Adolf Hitler, titled ‘Are you fed up with being labelled ‘FAR-RIGHT’?’

Another of the posts, shared from the page of English Defence League founder Robinson, apparently referenced comments by Boris Johnson about Muslim women wearing veils, read: ‘Should Britain ban letterboxes because of all the trouble they’re causing?’

Robinson was jailed for contempt of court earlier this year after posting videos about a child grooming trial involving a group of Asian men from Huddersfield. He was later freed on appeal.

West Yorkshire Police today said the teenager has been interviewed and reported for summons over the incident at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, and will appear before a youth court ‘in due course.’

The boy was quizzed over the footage in which the 15-year-old victim, whose arm is in a sling, is headbutted, then pinned down and squirted in the face with water.

One woman who donated, named Rose, said: ‘I struggle for words when I think about everything your family has been through escaping Syria and starting a new life in a country that treats you like this. I want to help in any way possible.’ 

Another donor, Simon Porter, said: ‘Syrian refugee children who have fled a war torn country being bullied in a UK school is unacceptable.’ 

David Paton added: ‘Poor boy. He manages to escape war and tyranny, only to be bullied by some low life thug in the UK. What an absolute disgrace this bully is, shame on you.’ 

Mohammed Tahir, who set up the crowdfunding page for the bullying victim, said he had been overwhelmed by the support it had received.

He said: ‘I can’t thank everyone enough for the generous donations they have made.’ 

Mr Akunjee said they have contacted the school and the local authority, but have not been given any information on what action was being taken.

He did confirm that the boy’s attacker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was excluded on November 20. 

Three other boys that appear in the video are being dealt with by the school. 

In statement West Yorkshire Police said a 16-year-old youth has been interviewed and reported for summons for an offence of assault.

The statement said: ‘The incident occurred on 25 October this year and has been subject to thorough investigation since it was reported to us the day after. 

‘The victim and his family are receiving ongoing support from police and other agencies.

‘Safeguarding measures have been put in place for the victim and his family.

‘A previous unconnected incident on 7 October, in which the victim suffered a wrist injury, was also fully investigated at the time. 

‘Three youths were interviewed. There was no further police action and the matter was referred to the school.’  

Police outside the Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire today, where the attack happened

Police outside the Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire today, where the attack happened

How did the youngster get to the UK?

The family of the bullied boy are understood to have come to Britain under a UN resettlement programme after fleeing war-torn Syria.

They are believed to have been living in the city of Homs, which has one of the highest death tolls of any city caught up in the conflict.

It is said the boy’s relatives were tortured and murdered by the Assad regime, causing them to escape the carnage of the country’s civil war.

They are understood to have got into neighbouring Lebanon – where there are a number of large refugee camps – from where they were given safe passage to Britain. 

In 2015, the Home Office announced plans to bring 20,000 displaced people from the region to the UK.

Around 550 of those were placed in West Yorkshire and the boy’s family are understood to have been among the 130 sent to the Kirklees area. 

At the time, a council spokesman said:  ‘The families who are escaping persecution in Syria were identified as being some of those most in need of support.

‘The families were relocated to the area as part of the vulnerable persons relocation (VPR) scheme.’

Locals named who they claimed was responsible for the attack online, and witnesses said police were at the teen’s house last night.

Family members of the supposed attacker were also named and received death threats online. 

A Facebook account believed to belong to the boy features numerous posts shared from the page of English Defence League founder Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

One of those posts, apparently referencing comments by Boris Johnson about Muslim women wearing veils, read: ‘Should Britain ban letterboxes because of all the trouble they’re causing?’

Robinson was jailed for contempt of court earlier this year after posting videos about a child grooming trial involving a group of Asian men from Huddersfield. He was later freed on appeal.

The video has been viewed more than 27,000 times and attracted hundreds of comments of disgust from Huddersfield parents. 

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood was among those to share the footage, writing online: ‘Absolute disgrace – Please retweet. 

‘This bully, his parents, the school where this occurs and the onlookers who fail to step in, all have big questions to answer.

‘To the Syrian refugee – I say sorry. It’s not the welcoming, friendly Britain we are supposed to be.’

In one post by the boy said to have carried out the attack, he said the organisation 'do right' and re-posted links to Robinson mocking burkas

In one post by the boy said to have carried out the attack, he said the organisation ‘do right’ and re-posted links to Robinson mocking burkas

One of the posts, shared from the page Robinson, referenced comments by Boris Johnson about Muslim women wearing veils, read: 'Should Britain ban letterboxes because of all the trouble they're causing?'

Another showed images of riots, with the words: OUR WORLD TODAY the hell created by one evil ideology'

Another of the posts, shared from the page Robinson, referenced comments by Boris Johnson about Muslim women wearing veils, read: ‘Should Britain ban letterboxes because of all the trouble they’re causing?’ Another showed images of riots, with the words: OUR WORLD TODAY the hell created by one evil ideology’

Huddersfield goalkeeper invites bullied Syrian refugee to a game and MMA star offers to pay for martial arts class in national outpouring of support

The video of the Syrian refugee being ‘waterboarded’ has sparked a wave of outrage across Britain and triggered a huge outpouring of support for the victim.

Thousands have taken to social media to express their disgust at the incident after footage of the attack went viral.

The Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association offered to host the victim and his family at a football match to show they are welcome in the town.

It was also met with a call from the club’s goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, who backed TV presenter Jake Humphrey in offering tickets to the next match.

Humphrey wrote to the local MP: Please find out which football team he/they support and let me buy them an all-expenses paid trip to a game. Thanks.

Lossl added: ‘I completely agree with @mrjakehumphrey. 

‘I’d like to show my love to **** by inviting him and his family to a @htafcdotcom game as my guest.   

Meanwhile, others have offered lessons in martial arts and self-defense including John Kavanaugh, the coach of Irish fighting superstar Conor McGregor, who tweeted, ‘He’s free membership for life at @SBG_Ireland anyway if he can ever make it.’

MMA fighter Joanne Doyle responded, ‘He would also be welcome at our gym in Bradford @teamfulinkazan I will happily cover his training costs, also my head coach (Mark Spencer) teaches at @TheFightLab in Huddersfield.  Hope he has the confidence to attend a class.’ 

The footage was called ‘heartbreaking’ by presenter Jeremy Vine.

He said on Twitter: ‘I’m trying to resist naming the bully in this film. More important, is it possible to do anything for the victim? 

‘A Syrian refugee who already had a broken wrist, apparently from a similar attack. Heartbreaking.’

Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield, said he has been supporting the teenager’s family.

‏He said: ‘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!’

An outraged mother of another pupil at the school said the victim was a ‘nice boy’ who is ‘never in trouble.’

Shanaz Abdullah, 39 said her son Birayar, 17, played football with the victim in school last year.

She said: ‘I know what he has been through.  The victim was much younger than my son but there was a group of them who were all from different countries. 

‘He struggled to speak English when he first moved here. I asked my son once ‘why is the boy playing with you so much younger?’

‘He told me it was because he was being bullied by other boys and they wanted him to play with them. He is such a nice boy. He is never in any trouble and would never cause anything.’  

Syrian journalist Danny Makki said on Twitter: ‘Escapes death, destruction and violence in Syria only to be viciously attacked, waterboarded and bullied at school in the U.K. This makes my blood boil.’

More than 100 Syrian refugees were brought to Huddersfield under a programme from 2015

More than 100 Syrian refugees were brought to Huddersfield under a programme from 2015

Huddersfield’s history of welcoming those from abroad 

The most recent census found that 79 per cent of the population in Kirklees, the area in which Huddersfield sits, are white, while around 16 per cent describe themselves as Asian or British-Asian.

The population data is slightly diffent for school pupils, according to data from last year.

That shows around 60 per cent of pupils are white British or white, while around 25 per cent are Asian of Pakistani heritage or Asian of Indian heritage.

Around 53 per cent of people in Kirklees describe themselves as Christian, 15 per cent say they are Muslim and 24 per cent say they have no religion.

In 2015, the Home Office announced plans to bring 20,000 displaced people from the region to the UK.

Around 550 of those were placed in West Yorkshire and the boy’s family are understood to have been among the 130 sent to the Kirklees area. 

A woman added: ‘One of the saddest things about that video is the way the lad gets up and walks away as if he’s used to being treated like it… like it’s normal. I hope karma is real.’ 

On the GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the victim it said the family are ‘refugees in the UK and they struggle to meet the basic necessities of life.

It adds: ‘We want to raise money for the family to ease their situation and hopefully they can use the funds to help improve their quality of life and to put a smile on their faces.

‘Having left a war torn country, the least they deserve is to live in peace without being harassed.

‘Please donate generously and let’s change this horrible situation into a blessing in disguise for them.’

Head teacher of Almondbury Community School Trevor Bowen said: ‘The safety and welfare of students is of paramount importance to us and this was a very serious incident.

‘We are not able to comment further as we are supporting the police with their investigation but I want to be clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour of any sort in our school.’ 

In a letter to parents, Mr Bowen said: ‘You will be aware of widespread media reports about an incident which took place in school. 

The victim's family fled the Syrian of Homs which was under siege from May 2011 to 2014 following protest against dictator Bashar al-Assad

The victim’s family fled the Syrian of Homs which was under siege from May 2011 to 2014 following protest against dictator Bashar al-Assad

‘The incident happened on our Fernside site a number of weeks ago.

‘The safety and welfare of students is our number one priority and I can assure you that this situation is being taken extremely seriously.

Why have refugees fled Homs for the West? 

Rebels and civilians withdrew from strongholds in Homs in May 2014, surrendering to President Bashar Assad.

The city was once dubbed the ‘capital of the revolution’. 

Few people have returned, and large parts of the once vibrant old city were  abandoned and destroyed.

Trouble in the western Syrian city began to face trouble in April 2011 when a huge ‘sit-in’ protest in the city’s mains square against Bashar al-Assad’s regime was disrupted by government security forces with 62 people killed.

In December 2011 the city became a a major base for the Free Syrian Army and it came under siege by the Syrian Army and Hezbollah for three years, with frequent bombing and shelling attacks against the militants. 

In December 2016 than 2,000 rebels and their families began leaving the last insurgent-held area in the city following several years of combat after reaching a ceasefire with the government.

Despite this, at least 32 people were killed and 90 injured in two bomb explosions in the Zahra district in the middle of the city days later, with ISIS claiming responsibility for the attacks.

Homs has one of the highest death tolls in the conflict, with the Syrian Martyrs group predicting more than 17,000 deaths in the city, not including government forces. 

‘The matter is subject to an ongoing police investigation and, as I am sure you understand, we must be guided by the authorities in the amount of detail we are able to provide. 

‘However, I can confirm we are working with the police to support their enquiries.

‘Since the incident occurred in October, the school, the local authority and the police have all taken action. 

‘We must allow the legal process to take its course, but I want to be absolutely clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour of any sort in our school.

‘I can also assure you that we are working very hard to ensure it is ‘business as usual’ across the school and that there is no disruption to the children’s education. 

‘The wellbeing of students is of paramount importance to us and a high level of support is available to anyone who may need it.’

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said on Twitter: ‘A police investigation is underway into the video from a local school. 

‘Neither us nor the school condone violence in any form and behaviour like this will not be tolerated.’ 

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, received criticism for retweeting the video of the attack on Twitter. 

But last night Mr Ellwood defended himself and said he fears Britain is ‘becoming a walk on by society where we’re allowing space for these things to happen’.

He told BBC Newsnight: ‘I worry that we are becoming a “walk on by” society where we’re allowing space for these things to happen.

‘We saw another event on the 17th of September where a female police officer was dragged across the ground.

‘What did people do there? They laughed as they recorded it on social media. Cars drove by without stopping. That is absolutely wrong. It’s that, that I want to challenge. It’s that, that I want to change.’

When challenged on retweeting the video, he replied: ‘You seem to be condoning this behaviour. This is absolutely wrong. Somebody head-butting another child. Where does this bully get these ideas from? That is the question that we all need to pose ourselves. Let me explain.

‘My little boy went to pre-school. Day one and he came back with a black eye. When I asked how he got this, he said he stepped in for his friend who was being beaten up by somebody else. Now I can’t tell any parent what they should do with their children.

‘I can’t ask anybody what conversations should be had. What I’m saying is we should all ask ourselves: “how is it that it’s becoming the norm, with social media, to record these things, find them funny and amusing, and walk on by?” That is the piece that I want to challenge. And that’s what I was seeking to do by actually putting it out on social media myself.

‘Let’s get back and understand what our values are and defend them. Let’s get back to being strong about what Britain should be. Let’s get back to making sure that when kids grow up they know the difference between good and bad so this sort of thing doesn’t happen.’

‘You’re right to mention the vigilantes. They’re arguably as bad as the bullies themselves, and have taken these matters into their own hands. And you’re also right to say I hope the majority of us do not participate in this behaviour. The point though is, if the majority of us walk on by, we’re ignoring the problem. We need to own the problem and solve this. We can only do that if we move on from this walk on by society.’

  Waterboarding is used as a form of torture where water is poured over the face of the victim and their breathing passages causing the sensation of drowning.

    

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