A brother and sister from Syria were violently attacked by their classmates. The bullying was so bad that the sister also reportedly attempted suicide.
Family attorney Mohammed Akunjee of Farooq Bajwa & Co. confirmed the attacks, shown in separate viral videos, which occurred at the siblings’ school in the United Kingdom.
“We have been investigating this since the family contacted us about the abuse they are receiving,” Akunjee told the U.K. Mirror. “The boy and his sister have been subjected to so much abuse that we decided to contact the MP in this case.”
Akunjee added: “The same day the video went viral on social media of Jamal 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. The level of bullying got [to be] so much.”
In a video posted on Wednesday and shot at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in northern England, Jamal’s unnamed sister is pushed to the ground by a girl while another, much bigger student tackles her and tears off her pink headscarf.
On Oct. 25, the girl’s 15-year-old brother, Jamal, was also attacked by a 16-year-old student, who now faces criminal charges. In the recording of that incident, Jamal walks across a field wearing an arm cast when an unnamed student suddenly head-butts him, pushing him to the ground. “I’ll drown you,” the bully says, strangling Jamal and pouring water on his face. After escaping, Jamal calmly walks away.
On Wednesday, Jamal gave an on-camera interview to ITV News (which did not identify him by name for legal reasons). “When I saw everyone looking at this video, I felt ashamed of myself and why it happened,” he said. “I was really upset about that. I was feeling like I couldn’t study my homework and stuff. I woke up at night and just started crying because of this problem. They think I’m different — different from them.”
Jamal told ITV that he was disappointed by the response from law enforcement, who suggested that he change schools to avoid further conflict. “It was really bad, and I didn’t see no reaction from school,” said the boy. “I don’t feel safe at school. Sometimes I say to my dad, ‘I don’t want to go to school anymore.’ I was just crying, and I did nothing because I respect the school rules.”
Akunjee did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. He told ITV News, “Our surprise is around how such a depth of abuse could have carried on at the school for so long.”
On Wednesday, head teacher Trevor Bowen of Almondbury Community School, which did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, posted a letter to parents on the school website.
“The safety and welfare of students is our number one priority and I can assure you that this situation is being taken extremely seriously,” read the post. “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 inquiries.”
“Since the incident occurred in October, the school, the local authority and the police have all taken action,” read the update. “We must allow the legal process to take its course, but I want to be absolutely clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behavior 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.”
The West Yorkshire Police shared a post on Wednesday on the cases of Jamal and his sister. “Regarding the assault on a 15-year-old youth in Almondbury, which featured in a video posted on social media yesterday and has been widely reported in the media, a 16-year-old youth has been interviewed and reported for summons, for an offense of assault. He will appear at Youth Court in due course. 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.”
The police also alluded to Jamal’s injured hand: “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.”
On Tuesday, a man named Mohammed Tahir created a GoFundMe page for the siblings, raising about $145K of its approximately $190K goal. Tahir did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
He shared that the siblings have endured months of bullying at school, writing, “Jamal’s family are refugees in the U.K. and they struggle to meet the basic necessities of life. 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.”
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