The internet has come out in support of a teenage boy who was pushed to the ground and ‘water-boarded’ by bullies, with a GoFundMe page raising more than £40,000 for the victim in less than 24 hours.
The 15-year-old boy, thought to be a Syrian refugee in the UK, has been subjected to months of bullying along with his little sister, according to Mohammed Tahir, who set up the crowdfunding page for the family.
The incident, which was videoed on a phone, took place at a school in Huddersfield and police are investigating a “racially-aggravated assault”.
West Yorkshire Police said a 16-year-old boy has been interviewed and reported for summons over the incident. He will appear at Youth Court in due course.
On social media, where the video was shared, people have expressed outrage at the treatment of the teenager, who has his arm in a cast and is head-butted and then thrown to the ground. After having water tipped on to his face, he then gets up and walks off with his head down.
Mohammed Tahir, who set up a GoFundMe page after seeing the video, said: “The video was heartbreaking to watch and I just wanted to help them out in any way I could.”
Tahir has since been verified by the crowdfunding site. A spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “We’ll be working with him to get the funds directly to [the] family.”
On the funding page, Tahir said the bullied boy’s family were struggling to afford daily necessities. “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,” he said.
“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.”
This morning Tahir shared an update to say he’d spoken to the family and they were doing well. “I will be meeting the family Saturday and we will talk through how we can get the funds available to them,” he tweeted.
Presenter Jeremy Vine and Countdown’s Rachel Riley have shared their support for the boy. “Loads of love...refugees deserve refuge,” Riley tweeted.
“These bullies do not represent what I want my country to be. I hope the other kids were running over to help, it’s not enough to be a bystander if someone is getting hurt, even when it’s scary.”
After local MP Barry Sheerman tweeted to say he would be giving “all available support” to the refugee family, sports presenter Jake Humphrey asked him to find out which football team they support. “Let me buy them an all-expenses paid trip to a game,” he said.
Huddersfield Town FC goalkeeper Jonas Lössl has also invited the family to a game as his guest.