Nine years after they were forced to flee the war in Syria, the family of a 15-year-old boy whose abuse at the hands of school bullies in the UK was captured in a viral video clip have been forced to move again.
In an interview with the Guardian, the father of the boy – who can only be referred to as Jamal – said the family left their home in Huddersfield after people who had seen the video threatened them with violence.
“We left Syria for a new future here,” he said. “We hoped this country would keep us safe, but we could not stay in Huddersfield. After the video we were threatened, my children were threatened. It was not safe. We had to leave; there was no choice.”
The footage of the playground incident at Almondbury community school in Huddersfield, which showed Jamal being pushed to the ground and having water poured on his face, was watched millions of times and attracted widespread condemnation, including from Theresa May.
Hours after the video went viral in October last year, the police interviewed a 16-year-old suspect. The teenager was set to appear before a youth court on a charge of assault. This is yet to happen.
Jamal’s father warned that other Syrian families in Huddersfield were facing persecution.
“All the Syrian families that were put into that area are struggling. They have no support and they are having similar problems to us,” he said.
“We have had to leave and others will do the same.”
Now the family are devastated at being forced to move hundreds of miles from Huddersfield to start over once more.
Farah, the eldest daughter, said: “When I first came here I just wanted to make friends and was going to be a doctor. We did not understand why this was happening. We were happy to be in a mixed place ... [A] community with lots of different people. We just wanted to have friends and get our studies at school.”
The family’s latest setback comes after many years of struggle as they made their way from war-torn Homs to the UK. They had seen friends and relatives brutally murdered and tortured under the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Source: The Guardian