A 15-year-old Syrian refugee who was filmed being pushed to the ground and having water poured on his face in a video that went viral has asked people not to attack the alleged bully. Footage of the playground incident at a school in Huddersfield went viral on Tuesday night and has been watched millions of…
A 15-year-old Syrian refugee who was filmed being pushed to the ground and having water poured on his face in a video that went viral has asked people not to attack the alleged bully.
Footage of the playground incident at a school in Huddersfield went viral on Tuesday night and has been watched millions of times.
Now the boy at the centre of the alleged attack, who can be identified only as Jamal, has said he hopes no violence is aimed at the bully, after online abuse was directed at the alleged 16-year-old perpetrator.
He said: “I am very concerned about the violent comments going out on social media about the bully. I don’t want anything terrible to happen to him at all. I just don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone.”
Tasnime Akunjee, a solicitor representing the Syrian family, said Jamal and his family had been alarmed by the violent threats being made online towards the alleged attacker.
He said: “He [Jamal] is concerned about the fact that no other children are harmed – including the bullies.”
Akunjee added: “It is a shocking video. But some people are calling for the bully to be bullied and that is certainly not what this boy or any of his family want. He just wishes this never happened and that none of the bullying ever took place. This is the mature attitude with which he has conducted himself even while being bullied.”
The video of that incident, which occurred at Almondbury community school on 25 October, has attracted widespread condemnation. The alleged perpetrator has been the subject of hundreds of violent threats online and on Thursday a police guard remained outside his home.
The far-right campaigner Tommy Robinson has become involved in the saga, claiming Jamal had previously attacked two schoolgirls. The EDL founder reposted a screenshot of a message on his Facebook page from a mother claiming her daughter had been bullied.
However, the mother later posted on Robinson’s page denying that it was Jamal who had allegedly attacked her daughter.
Akunjee confirmed that the family are planning to take legal action against Robinson.
In a letter to Robinson, Akunjee demanded that “defamatory” videos posted online relating to Jamal be removed immediately.
The letter said: “We have been made aware of two videos posted to your Facebook page … these videos contain a number of false and defamatory allegations in respect of our client.
“We wish to place you on notice that our client intends to pursue legal action against you in respect of the contents of these publications.”
Meanwhile, a local councillor, Bernard McGuin, has revealed that Jamal wrote to authorities in a desperate plea for help three weeks before the alleged attack.
McGuin said Jamal emailed him listing a series of “incidents and allegations” at the school.
In the email entitled “complaint: please help me” Jamal said that he had been subjected to bullying since he joined the school in year 9.
Jamal told the councillor he had written to Almondbury community school, West Yorkshire police, Kirklees education services, Ofsted and the Department for Education on 4 October – three weeks before the alleged attack in the video – but no action was taken.
McGuin, who represents Almondbury on Kirklees council, said: “It was a list of allegations which he said had happened in the school. He said the police and the school had not helped him. He felt nobody could help him.”
The councillor said he followed protocol and contacted a senior party member who told him to refer the matter to Kirklees council’s director of children’s services, Steve Walker.
McGuin said he received an email on 5 November from the Department for Education which said the case was being dealt with.
A further email on 23 November to the councillor said the council and police had met with the school on three separate occasions and a list of actions had been taken including the exclusion of a pupil.
On Thursday afternoon about 30 protesters took part in a peaceful demonstration outside the school organised by the Huddersfield Pakistani Community Alliance. Four of the group then had a meeting with the school’s headteacher, Trevor Bowen.
Jamal and his father briefly made an appearance at the protest and thanked the community for their support.
Speaking at his home, Jamal told the Guardian he and his sister would not be returning to the school.
Since Tuesday, fresh footage has emerged that is said to show Jamal’s sister being physically abused at the same school. The video shows a girl being pushed towards a grass verge. At the end of the clip she falls to the ground.
Akunjee confirmed Jamal’s 14-year-old sister had been bullied by another group of pupils, and last week someone had forcibly removed her hijab. On Tuesday a girl was excluded from the school over that incident.
West Yorkshire police said a 16-year-old boy had been interviewed in connection with the Jamal incident and would be charged with assault. They are separately investigating the incident involving his sister.
The family came to Huddersfield two years ago after fleeing persecution under the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
A fundraising page for Jamal and his family has received more than £148,000 in donations since it was launched on Tuesday night. The family will use the money to relocate.