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Boy, 14, beat Muslim student in racist attack - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Boy, 14, beat Muslim student in racist attack Hugh Muir Tuesday November 30, 2004 The Guardian
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2004
      Boy, 14, beat Muslim student in racist attack
      Hugh Muir
      Tuesday November 30, 2004
      The Guardian


      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
      society, too."

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