On a school field in northern England last month, a group of boys closed in fast upon their target.
“Hey, Jamal, come here!” the boy in the blue jumper yelled, as others strode beside him, one of them holding a phone aloft to record the pursuit.
A young refugee, known as Jamal, was grabbed by his neck and thrown to the ground in what has been described as a racially-motivated schoolyard attack. Vision: Facebook
A few metres ahead, Jamal kept walking, backpack strapped across his T-shirt and a cast around an arm. He’d been injured a few days prior in another incident at Almondbury Community School, according to police.
He and his sister had been repeatedly bullied since fleeing the Syrian civil war and moving to West Yorkshire two years earlier, according to the Examiner and other British newspapers.
Jamal was 15 — a year younger than the boy in the jumper, who walked fast to close the distance and swung a water bottle in his hand.
“What’re you saying now then?” he called out to Jamal.
Jamal was not saying anything, but he stopped and turned.
“What’re you saying now then?” the boy in the jumper repeated.
“Huh?” Jamal said.
The videographer adjusted his mobile phone to get Jamal in the frame with his antagonist. A crowd of students formed a loose semicircle around them, most dressed in the Almondbury jacket uniform.
“What are you saying now then?” the boy in the jumper asked, again, and this time he butted Jamal in the head as he said it.
“What are you saying now then! What are you saying now then!” The queries came so fast they almost sounded like a single word.
“Nothing,” Jamal finally replied.
The boy in the jumper grabbed Jamal’s neck, twisted him around and pushed him to the grass.
“What are you saying now then? Eh! Eh! Eh?” he screamed. But if there was an answer to the question, Jamal could no longer give it. The sweater boy had a hand around his throat and was pouring water from the bottle into his mouth.
“I’ll drown ya, you little bastard, I’ll drown you!” he shouted as Jamal coughed and sputtered.
– Avi Selk
Feature Image Source: Pixabay