A Syrian boy who was attacked at school in England in a video shared widely online has spoken out about the bullying he has received since his arrival in the UK.
The 15-year-old refugee, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told ITV News he had been targeted for the past two years.
His family fled persecution in Homs and lived for several years in Lebanon, before being resettled in the UK in 2016 via a UN programme.
"I was feeling unsafe everywhere - even to go to the shop," the teenager said. "I was feeling like I couldn't study or do my homework. I woke up at night and just started crying because of this problem. When I saw everyone looking at this video I felt ashamed of myself and why it happened. I was really upset about that."
The school – Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield – confirmed that police had been called in after the video prompted outrage.
“The safety and welfare of students is of paramount importance to us and this was a very serious incident,” headteacher Trevor Bowen said in a statement. “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.”
West Yorkshire Police confirmed they had interviewed a teenager and a 16-year-old is due to appear before a youth court in due course, charged with assault.
The Syrian boy said in the interview that since he came to the UK, the bullying and racism had become so bad that he didn’t want to go to school anymore.
"I was disappointed when I came to the UK because I was thinking my life is going to be good, my future is going to be really good if I study at school. And I didn't achieve any of that," he said.
The boy said he was “upset” by the school’s initial response to the bullying, and that when he had first tried to report the problem to the authorities, they did nothing.
A further video has appeared, said to show the sister of the Syrian boy also being attacked at the same school. The police – who have not confirmed that the two alleged victims are related – say they are liaising with the girl's family.
The videos have prompted a wide-ranging debate in the UK over bullying, racism, and attitudes towards refugees. Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised online for the boy after a fundraising page was set up.