A Muslim university student was savagely beaten by three men who called him a “suicide bomber” after he wished them Merry Christmas outside a pub in Durham.
The 27-year-old Durham University student, Ihsan Abualrob, explained his terrifying ordeal and said he was kicked in his head and body by three men as he lay on the ground.
Three men have been arrested for racially aggravated assault after the alleged attack on Mr Ihsan, who had gone to the pub to celebrate his first Christmas in the UK.
The attack happened at 8.40pm on Christmas Eve near the Happy Wanderer, in Framwellgate Moor, Durham, and the 27-year-old was treated in hospital shortly after.
Mr Abualrob told The Independent said: “At one point I lost consciousness. I was helpless and thought this was the end of it. It was so scary and frightening.
“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.
“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.”
Abualrob is studying a masters in politics and international relations as part of a UK Government Scholarship.
He had gone to the pub with a friend to play pool, but when he got there the table had been covered up.
He said: “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.”
“My friend said from Egypt and myself from Palestine. He said: ‘Egypt, Palestine. You Muslims. Are you suicide bombers?”
When they left the pub, he claimed three men were waiting outside for them.
He added: “They started insulting my religion. I said ‘Merry Christmas, enjoy your holiday’ and didn’t say any more.
“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 on my left check and I fell to the ground.
“Then three of them started kicking me in the head, shoulders and body. I grabbed my head in my arms trying to protect my face.
“I managed to get away and tried to get into the bar for protection. Because I was so dizzy I fell in front of the pub.”
Police confirmed three men have been arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault in connection with the incident.