A mother's love for a victim of hate

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The Independent Online
FOR SIX months Quddus Ali has lain in a London hospital bed. He cannot see properly, he cannot walk, his speech is painfully slow - you have to lean forward and concentrate to hear his short, whispered sentences. He is 17, and by the accounts of his friends and family he was a shy and unassuming teenager - fond of football, good at English - until the events of 6 September last year turned him into a victim and a cause.

Quddus remembers nothing of the day when he and three friends were attacked by a gang of white youths while returning a video to a rental shop close to his home in Tower Hamlets. He was kicked in the head and beaten unconscious. The attack led to three days of disturbances on the streets. More than 20 people were arrested after a vigil of 1,500 anti- racist protestors outside the Royal London Hospital turned to violence.

For more than three months he lay in a coma. Shortly before Christmas, however, at a rehabilitation unit at Homerton Hospital, Hackney, he began to kick and twitch in his sleep and began to make gurgling noises. His parents were by his bedside when he first opened his eyes and gestured to them for a drink of water.

Last week he was still in hospital. Dressed in grey tracksuit bottoms, socks, and a short-sleeved shirt, he was lying on his bed, his wheelchair beside him. He can move his limbs with some ease now, although his right arm remains stiff and weak. He is friendly and occasionally grins, but his eyes appear hollow. Get-well cards are pinned above his bed.

Asked what he wants to do, Quddus repeats: 'I want to go home. My mum and dad and brother are there.' According to the hospital, that is unlikely to happen for some time.

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