Boy, 14, beat Muslim student in racist attack
Tuesday November 30, 2004
It did not occur to Yasir Abdelmouttalib to be afraid.
And he paid little heed to friends warning him against
wearing Islamic white robes to prayers.
That decision seems to have cost him his health and
his future. It almost cost him his life.
Yesterday the trial ended of three 14-year-old boys
accused of a vicious attack on the 22-year-old
university graduate as he waited for a bus in
Willesden, north-west London, one Friday afternoon in
The jury heard how three boys taunted and spat at Mr
Abdelmouttalib through the bus window and how, when he
remonstrated, one boy took ferocious revenge.
Mr Abdelmouttalib, a tall, slight figure, was
repeatedly punched and kicked and struck in the head
with a heavy roadsweepers' broom.
One teenager was convicted at Harrow crown court of
causing grievous bodily harm with intent and will be
sentenced on December 20. Two others, who denied
taking part in the attack, were acquitted.
Mr Abdelmouttalib was unable to give evidence. He
remains in hospital, brain damaged and paralysed. He
has lost most of his sight.
He told the Guardian that he still retained his
spirit: "Everything has changed, but they will not
defeat me ... I was an active man. Now I can't do
anything. I can't read, my memory is failing. I had to
stop my studies."
He hopes to do a PhD one day. "But who can tell? My
life is in the hands of Allah."
His speech is slow and slurred, but his anger is
palpable. "I would sentence him to death because as
far as I am concerned, he wanted to kill me. He hit me
as if I had sworn at him or killed someone he loved."
He believes his tunic and beard may have singled him
out. "All the time television talks about Osama bin
Laden and I think they thought, 'Let's take revenge.'
They are not human beings. No human would attack
someone like this."
Mr Abdelmouttalib was born in Morocco but his family
lives in Saudi Arabia. He went to Scotland to study
and obtained a mechanical engineering degree from
Napier University, Edinburgh.
The court heard that three boys on a bus began
shouting and spitting as Mr Abdelmouttalib prepared to
board. On boarding, he remonstrated before he and
three boys were ejected.
Witnesses told the jury that one boy led the assault.
A woman told the court she saw the broom "going up and
down" while another witness pleaded for them to stop.
A police officer saw a group leaving the scene
What happened afterwards seems to have caused as much
controversy. Officials from the Islamic Human Rights
Commission (IHRC), which has been helping Mr
Abdelmouttalib, claim that Scotland Yard seemed keen
to establish whether the victim had any links with
Islamic extremists. They say that officers took
evidence from Mr Abdelmouttalib's residence. His
friends claim they were asked what mosques he attended
and whether he often changed his mobile phone.
Questions are also being asked about NHS treatment,
because health officials expressed concern about
making long-term arrangements for Mr Abdelmouttalib
before he earned permanent residency.
The Met accepts that inquiries were made into his
background but maintains they were necessary at the
start of the case when they knew nothing about the
victim and needed to establish a motive.
At the end of the trial, Detective Superintendent Neil
Wilson said the victim's family had thanked
investigators for their "tireless" efforts.
"My officers were shocked by the ferociousness of this
attack," he said.
Mr Abdelmouttalib's mother, Malika, sat in the court's
public gallery. Afterwards she said of her son's
attacker: "I am sad for him because I just don't think
he knows any better." She added: "I am sad for this
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