SINGAPORE — A 23-year-old Singaporean student was allegedly assaulted while walking along a street in London last Monday (24 February) in a racially motivated attack prompted by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (3 March), Jonathan Mok said he had experienced several racist statements in the past week, some involving references to the virus.
But overt racism reared its ugly head while he was walking along a busy Oxford Street at about 9.15pm.
As a group of young men walked past him, he heard one of them say something to him, but he said he could only make out the word “coronavirus”.
“I was stunned and turned around to have a look at the man (who) made the statement,” said Mok.
“He was still staring at me as he walked past and realised I was looking at him. He shouted ‘Don’t you dare look at me...’, the victim added.
Three to four men and a woman, all apparently in their late teens to early 20s, then approached him. “I was shocked and angry because he directed a racist remark at me and had the audacity to shout at me like I had wronged him,” said Mok who has been studying in the UK for the past two years.
“All of a sudden, the first punch was swung at my face and took me by surprise. When I was still shocked by the first hit, the guy delivered the second sucker punch,” Mok said.
“By then, a few passers-by had stopped and one of them tried to reason with them that 4 on 1 was not fair. The attacker’s friend tried to swing a kick at me as I was explaining to the passer-by that I hadn’t done anything at all,” he said.
“The guy who tried to kick me then said, ‘I don’t want your coronavirus in my country’, before swinging another sucker punch at me, which resulted in my face exploding with blood (from my nose), where the blood was splattered all across the pavement. Still in daze and shock, the group left promptly from the scene before the police arrived,” Mok added.
The Singaporean visited an accident and emergency department, where he was told that he had broken facial bones and may require reconstructive surgery.
Mok’s post has garnered more than 22,000 reactions, 4,000 comments and 15,000 shares as of Tuesday afternoon. He put the post up early on Tuesday morning (Singapore time).
When contacted, the Metropolitan Police Service said, “Police are investigating a racially aggravated assault in Oxford Street near Tottenham Court Road station at around 2115hrs on Monday, 24 February.”
The 23-year-old male victim was punched and sustained facial injuries, the police added, without confirming his identity.
“Enquiries continue to identify the suspects; including an assessment of available CCTV. There has been no arrest at this stage. Any witnesses are asked to call police on 101 quoting CAD 7522/feb24.”
In his post, Mok also appealed to witnesses to come forward.
Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to Mok for more details of the incident.
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