A 15-year-old Syrian refugee was tackled and “waterboarded” by a bully at a school in Huddersfield, England, a disturbing viral video shows. The teen was attacked by his classmate while walking outside of the school in October, but the video was posted online on November 27 and quickly spread on social media. The attacker has been arrested, police say.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise money for the family of the boy in the video, who has been identified by his first name, Jamal. Supporters of the boy and his family say he and his sister have been bullied on other occasions since moving to England. Jamal’s arm can be seen in a cast in the video as the result of a previous attack, according to the GoFundMe page.
The incident happened at Almondbury Community School on October 25 and police have been investigating along with school officials. The other student in the video, who can be seen “tackling, choking and waterboarding” Jamal, has been identified on social media as 16-year-old Bailey McLaren, a supporter of British far-right groups whose family members have been involved in previous racial incidents. McLaren and his family did not respond to requests for comment about the video. McLaren is now facing assault charges, according to the West Yorkshire Police.
The shocking video has been viewed more than two million times on Twitter and thousands of times on other social media sites. You can watch the video below and learn more about the boy arrested in the case, Bailey McLaren:
The Bully Tells Jamal ‘I’ll Drown You’ While Pouring Water on His Face, the Video Shows
In the video, the bully, identified as Bailey McLaren, can be seen walking up to the Syrian refugee, identified as 16-year-old Jamal, while holding a water bottle. The attacker appears to kick Jamal, who is much smaller than him, multiple times, while Jamal tries to walk away. He then suddenly grabs him by the throat and drags him to the ground while still choking the boy.
The bully then keeps his hand on Jamal’s throat while pouring water on his face and telling him, “I’ll drown you.” Jamal rolls away from him and stands up. The video ends with Jamal walking away from his attacker.
Local police released a statement about the incident on November 27.
“We are investigating a report of a racially-aggravated assault of a 15-year-old boy which occurred on playing fields at Almondbury Community School at about 1 p.m. on October 25,” Superintendent Steve Dodds, of the West Yorkshire Police Kirklees District, said in a statement. “A 16-year-old boy has been interviewed by voluntary attendance in connection with the incident and we are continuing to progress the investigation.”
On November 28, police updated the statement to say the teen is facing charges.
“Regarding the assault on a 15-year-old youth in Almondbury, which featured in a video posted on social media yesterday and has been widely reported in the media, a 16-year-old youth has been interviewed and reported for summons, for an offence of assault. He will appear at Youth Court in due course,” police said. “The incident occurred on 25 October this year and has been subject to thorough investigation since it was reported to us the day after. The victim and his family are receiving ongoing support from police and other agencies.”
According to police, “Safeguarding measures have been put in place for the victim and his family. A previous unconnected incident on 7 October, in which the victim suffered a wrist injury, was also fully investigated at the time. Three youths were interviewed. There was no further police action and the matter was referred to the school.”
MP Barry Sheerman tweeted, “Video of assault against one of my constituents absolutely shocking. Have been supporting the family since it was first brought to my attention. Understand from council that the school have taken strong action. Will be following up to ensure all available support is being given!”
Almondbury Community School Head Teacher Trevor Bowen told the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, “The safety and welfare of students is of paramount importance to us and this was a very serious incident. We are not able to comment further as we are supporting the police with their investigation but I want to be clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour of any sort in our school.”
The Kirklees Council added, “A police investigation is underway into the video from a local school. Neither us nor the school condone violence in any form and behaviour like this will not be tolerated.”
The newspaper reports that the video has sparked outrage in the community, with many calling the bully’s actions “pathetic.” Others have criticized the school for not taking action, but some told the newspaper that the boy in the video, Bailey McLaren, has been “permanently excluded,” or expelled, from the school.
Police are said to be guarding McLaren’s home after his address and other personal information were shared online with threats of retaliatory violence made against him and his family, The Daily Mail reports, but most online have called for him to be punished, not injured.
Jamal Moved to the UK From Syria 2 Years Ago & Has Been Subject to ‘Months of Bullying Along With His Sister’
Jamal, the 15-year-old victim, moved to Huddersfield with his family as a refugee from Syria two years ago. Mohammed Tahir, who started a verified GoFundMe campaign to help Jamal and his family, wrote, “The victim Jamal is a refugee in the UK who has been subject to months of bullying along with his little sister. To the point where his little sister has broken the lenses in her glasses and attempted to cut her own wrists in school toilets.”
According to The Sun, the family fled from Homs, Syria, in 2010 as a result of the civil war there. His family told the newspaper in a statement that they settled in the UK after first fleeing to Lebanon. They were given safe passage to Britain by the United Nations. Relatives had been tortured and murdered by the Assad regime in Syria, the newspaper reports. The bullying intensified recently, the family of the boy says.
“Last month he was set upon and assaulted so severely by four of the students in the school that his arm was fractured,” a family spokesperson told the newspaper. “Having had his arm placed in a cast, he returned to school, only within days to be set upon again by the same group of boys who this time strangled and waterboarded him whilst video recording the incident and sharing the same to add to and publicise his humiliation.”
The family spokesperson added, “His sister had been subjected to constant racial abuse by her own peer group since joining the school.”
According to Tahir, Jamal’s sister has attempted suicide as a result of the cruelty she and her family have faced. Tahir added:
Jamal’s family are refugees in the UK and they struggle to meet the basic necessities of life. 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. 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.
Tahir wrote on the fundraiser page, “My friend does regular charity work in Huddersfield which involves giving food donations to refugee families. He is in contact with them and has made them aware of this Go Fund Me page. My friend is also keeping me updated on any responses from them. The video was heart breaking to watch and I just wanted to help them out in any way I could. I had the idea to set up this page and through immense support from social media it has all gone really well.”
He added, “plan to add Jamal’s relevant guardians as the beneficiaries of the total funds. I am working with Kelsey from Go Fund Me (we are in contact via email) to ensure that the money gets to them.”
The campaign had raised more than £24,828 in six hours.
Danny Maki, a Syrian journalist based in London, wrote on Twitter, “Escapes death, destruction and violence in Syria only to be viciously attacked, waterboarded and bullied at school in the U.K. This makes my blood boil.”
Saeed Ali, whose tweet featuring the video has more than two million views, wrote, “The perverse thing is our elected leaders who oversaw water boarding as a legitimate tool have radicalised the young, not only to see all refugees as an enemy but to see water boarding as a joke, our children are being polluted with hate, it is frightening to see its growth.”
Meanwhile, others have offered lessons in martial arts and self-defense to Jamal, including John Kavanagh, the coach of Irish fighting superstar Conor McGregor, who tweeted, “He’s free membership for life at @SBG_Ireland anyway if he can ever make it.” MMA fighter Joanne Doyle responded, “He would also be welcome at our gym in Bradford @teamfulinkazan I will happily cover his training costs, also my head coach (Mark Spencer) teaches at @TheFightLab in Huddersfield. Hope he has the confidence to attend a class.”
Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl tweeted, “I’d like to show my love to Jamal by inviting him and his family to a @htafcdotcom game as my guest. Can someone help me contact the right person connected with Jamal to arrange this please?”
The Assailant Has Shared Facebook Posts Supporting the Far-Right Group ‘Britain First’ & Tommy Robinson
Bailey McLaren’s Facebook page has been overrun with thousands of angry comments after his name was made public on social media as the assailant in the video. The teen, a student at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, has frequently posted about England’s far-right on his Facebook page, expressing support for “Britain First,” and English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, who is known for anti-Muslim hate speech.
On August 26, McLaren shared a newspaper report about a protest by Britain First in his hometown of Huddersfield, writing, “They do right,” in the caption.
In another post, McLaren shared a video posted by Tommy Robinson:
He also shared a video by controversial Belfast politician Jolene Bunting, who was mocking those who criticize the far right.
Along with anti-Muslim memes, McLaren also shared several slanted news stories about arrests of Muslims. His other posts on Facebook are about his favorite team, Huddersfield Town FC, and the TV show “Peaky Blinders.”
McLaren’s Brother & Sister Have Both Been Arrested in Connection to Racial Incidents
Bailey McLaren’s mother and brother have both been arrested in connection to racial incidents in Huddersfield, according to news reports. Terri McLaren, his mother, was arrested in August 2017 in a case of an “alleged racist row shared online,” according to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.
Terri McLaren was accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior with intent to cause that person to believe that unlawful violence would be used against him. The incident occurred on March 28, 2017, and was said to be “racially-aggravated,” the newspaper reported.
The victim in that case was named as Ramzan Mudasar. Police said the incident was filmed and footage was shared on Facebook. That video could not immediately be found. McLaren denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty. She was released on bond and scheduled for a trial in November 2017. The outcome of that case was not immediately available.
Bailey McLaren’s brother, Reece McLaren, then 21, was accused of using a racial slur during a violent incident at a Britain First rally in Rotherham, the Rotherham Advertiser reported at the time. Reece McLaren denied using racial slurs toward Asian men and also said he was not affiliated with the right-wing group. Six other men were arrested. McLaren was eventually jailed for two years and eight months, ITV reported.
In another case, Reece McLaren was jailed for 20 months and banned from attending British football games for eight years after admitting to an “unprovoked attack” on a group of teens prior to a Huddersfield Town game against Leeds United, the Huddersfield Town Examiner reported in 2017.
McLaren admitted to repeatedly punching the teens while drunk because he thought they were fans of a rival team.
The School Says Behavior Like What Is Seen in the Video ‘Is Not Tolerated’ There
Trevor Brown, head teacher at Almondbury Community School, said in a letter to parents, “The safety and welfare of students is our number one priority and I can assure you that this situation is being taken extremely seriously.”
He added, “Since the incident occurred in October, the school, the local authority and the police have all taken action. We must allow the legal process to take its course, but I want to be absolutely clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour of any sort in our school. I can also assure you that we are working very hard to ensure it is ‘business as usual’ across the school and that there is no disruption to the children’s education.”
Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, said in a statement, “We are utterly shocked and appalled by the attack on a 15-year-old boy who came to the UK in search of safety. The idea that someone escapes war and brutality, only to be met with violence here, is truly awful. We have been heartened by the fantastic outpouring of support from many members of the British public who are sending a clear message that nobody in our community should be treated in this way.”
The Sun reports that Bailey McLaren and his family fled from their Huddersfield home.
“It is understood cops removed the lad’s family from their Huddersfield house under the cover of darkness after a gang of vigilantes turned up and hurled a barrage of abuse,” the newspaper reported. “It comes as West Yorkshire Police confirmed today the 16-year-old boy is set to be charged with assault over the incident.”
A neighbor told The Sun, “The boy’s family were moved out last night for their own protection. People were pulling up in their cars in the early hours and shouting threats and all kinds of abuse. It was disgusting.”
Police confirmed to the newspaper that safeguarding measures were being put in place, but did not confirm that the teen and his family were taken to a safehouse.
Another neighbor told The Sun, “I saw at least two or three police cars and four police. I heard a lot of cars pulling up in the road until really late, after 1am. There was shouting and swearing and it’s been really worrying what’s going on to be honest.” She added that she was shown the video by her 9-year-old son.
“He got home from school and said, ‘Mum look at this.’ It was pretty shocking,” the neighbor told The Sun. She said she didn’t think the school took it seriously enough. “They just think it’s kids being kids.”