Sajid Javid has revealed the attack on a young Syrian refugee at a school in Huddersfield reminded him of the racist abuse he suffered when he was at school.
In a video that shocked the nation, 15-year-old Jamal was headbutted and waterboarded by another pupil at Almondbury Community School on October 25. In a separate video recorded at the same school, female students attempted to take off Jamal’s sister’s hijab. She later reportedly attempted suicide over the incident.
Javid’s parents immigrated to the UK in the 60s. He was born and raised in Rochdale but said he faced bullying at school because of his Asian background and was shocked that incidents like Jamal’s were still happening now.
“I saw the video like anyone else and part of me I was clearly absolutely outraged and, to be frank, it reminded of an incident I had myself when I was 11 at school. Because I was Asian I was punched to the ground,” the home secretary told Radio Four’s Today programme.
“That’s the immediate memories that came back to me. And obviously I hated it and I thought how that young boy must feel.
“How can this kind of thing still be going on in our country?” he added.
The home secretary added that it was ‘heart-warming’ to see the response of the public with more than £50,000 raised for Jamal and his family through an online fundraising page.
He has also written to the family himself to express his sympathy and said he would like to meet them.
A 16-year-old older boy is to be charged with assault in connection with the incident. The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will appear at youth court “in due course”.