The Syrian refugee boy who was filmed being waterboarded by a school bully will be suing Facebook for allowing the far-right activist Tommy Robinson to post videos claiming that he attacked “English” girls.
Lawyers representing 16-year-old Jamal are in the process of preparing a lawsuit against Facebook for allowing the former leader of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) Tommy Robinson, 36, to spread false accusations about him on the social media platform.
The social media giant is accused of allowing Robinson – real name Stephen-Yaxley Lennon – to post a series of toxic rants about Jamal because the far-right activist’s exposure makes Facebook money. Jamal’s lawyers have said that Facebook was “fully aware of the reckless and pernicious nature” of Robinson’s videos and has “profited from defamation”.
In addition, the boy’s legal team have also launched legal proceedings against Robinson for falsely claiming that Jamal attacked three “English girls” and a boy.
Late last November, shocking video footage went viral of Jamal being head-butted and pulled to the ground by the neck before the bully threatens “to drown him” by pouring a water over his face as other pupils at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield cheered.
Hours after the video of the horrific incident was viewed by millions of people online, Robinson posted videos of Facebook claiming that Jamal, who was 15 at the time, was “not innocent” and had previously attacked other “English” pupils.
In one of the Facebook videos, Robinson, claimed: “A young girl was beaten badly by Muslim girls.
“While those Muslim girls were beating her up, Jamal was involved in kicking and biting her.
“She was bitten, she was black and blue.’
“He’s not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls at school. He beat the s*** out of an English kid.”
Robinson went as far as telling his million plus Facebook followers that this fictional incident went to court, but a spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said they were unaware of any such reports. The far-right activist admitted in a later video that he had been duped.
However, by that time, his videos had been viewed more than a million times, and some of the clips can still be found online.
In an interview with the Mail Jamal said: “I felt scared that people would think wrong about me because I hit girls when I didn’t.
“I was scared because I feared people would attack me more because they would be believing in what Tommy Robinson said about me.
“I cannot go to my school anymore and there are people who hang around outside my house and video me on their phones.
“They call me “little rat” if I go outside. One of my neighbours threatened me outside my house just yesterday.”
Jamal’s lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee of the London-based Farooq Bajwa and Co Solicitors firm, is also preparing a lawsuit against Facebook for allowing the videos to be shared on its platform.
He said: “Facebook was fully aware of the reckless and pernicious nature of Robinson’s posts.
“But it looks like Facebook has given him a special status. He was treated differently than the normal Facebook user.
“They have made editorial decisions about his posts and therefore became responsible and are in partnership with him.”
Mr Akunjee added that the “special treatment seems to be financially driven” and it contravened “their own regulations over defamatory content.”
In January 2014, Robinson was imprisoned for mortgage fraud. He spent six months in prison while a confiscation order required him to pay back £125,000.
The prominent Islamophobic activist has deleted some of the videos about Jamal, stating that: “I have been completely had, how embarrassing, man.”
After Jamal’s attack went viral, more than 10,000 people donated about £150,000 to help relocate him and his family to a residence outside of Huddersfield.
The boy’s family will receive the money when they find a suitable house.
None of the funds raised will be go towards the lawsuits against Robinson or Facebook.
You can donate towards Jamal’s relocation costs on a crowdfunding page setup by his legal team here.