LONDON: A teenaged Syrian refugee, who won £100,000 ($139,632) in damages from a British Islamophobe, has said he wants to use the money to establish a charity for young people.
When Jamal Hijazi was 15 he was filmed being assaulted and bullied by his classmates in a school in Huddersfield, UK. He was beaten, and pupils were seen pouring water over his face in an apparent effort to “waterboard” him.
Following the attack, Tommy Robinson, a well known far-right figure in the UK whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, published two videos in which he falsely accused the refugee of attacking young English girls at his school and threatening to stab other pupils.
Hijazi, who is originally from Homs, faced death threats and other serious disruptions to his life and education following those claims — which were viewed nearly a million times — and took Robinson to court for libel.
Robinson, who rose to prominence as the founder of Islamophobic far-right group the English Defence League, was ordered to pay Hijazi the damages, as well as foot his legal costs.
Speaking for the first time since the case’s resolution on July 23, Hijazi, now 17, said: “I want to use this money to set up a charity to help young people of any race who go through problems at school or anywhere.
“Not just bullying, but racism or any other problems that young people experience,” he told the i newspaper.
“I have been through a lot and I want other young people to have the support that I had and I want to help people.”
He added that it “felt good” to have won the case but, when asked about Robinson, he said: “I don’t want to go into that.”
Asked about his future, Hijazi said he is now “a lot happier,” and that he hopes to take up an apprenticeship.
Tasnime Akunjee, the teeanger’s lawyer, said it was disgusting that Robinson “thought it was in any way appropriate to add to the burden of a child who had been seriously bullied.”
He added: “This outcome shows there are limits to what society will tolerate and that when someone crosses the line, there will be support for the victim and that those responsible will be held to account.
“For Jamal and his family, it is a great relief that the horrific lies which were told about Jamal have been resoundingly put to bed and his name has been cleared.”