DURHAM – A Durham University Muslim student was severely beaten up on Christmas night after wishing a group of British men a Merry Christmas.
“At one point I lost consciousness. I was helpless and thought this was the end of it. It was so scary and frightening,” Ihsan Abualrob told the Northern Echo.
“I felt not only in pain but humiliated. I come from Palestine, which is a very conflicted country, and I came here with the hope of having a peaceful life, not having to live in fear,” he said.
“It’s my first Christmas ever outside of my country and that is my Christmas treat? They did this for nothing, but for me being a Muslim in this country.”
“Christmas should be a time of love and hope, not violence,” he added.
The Palestinian graduate is currently a student at Durham University undertaking a masters in politics and international relations.
He went to the pub with an Egyptian friend to play pool.
“We don’t drink and were sitting there chatting when out of the blue a British guy approached us, pulled up a chair uninvited and asked where we were from,” he said.
“My friend said ‘from Egypt’ and myself ‘from Palestine.’ He said: ‘Egypt, Palestine. You Muslims. Are you suicide bombers?’”
When they left the pub, three men were waiting outside for them.
“They started insulting my religion. I said ‘Merry Christmas, enjoy your holiday’ and didn’t say anymore,” Abualrob said.
“We started crossing the street and they followed us. One of them threw an empty glass towards us. Then one of them lunged at me and punched me in my left cheek and I fell to the ground.”
The 27-year-old was taken to hospital after the attack which took place outside a pub in Durham at 8.40pm on the 24th of December.
Two men have since been arrested on suspicion of a racially or religiously aggravated assault.
“I have bruises on my face, my knee is badly injured and above all, I have a bad concussion. I am dizzy and with a terrible headache and have blurred vision,” a heartbroken Abualrob said.
“My heart is broken and I am emotionally overwhelmed. I wished them a Merry Christmas and they, instead of doing the same, attacked me.”