Croydon asylum seeker's brother unable to recognise him due to his severely beaten face

'His face was very badly smashed and all black eyes. If we saw him somewhere else... we couldn't recognise him,' says Chairman of South London's  Kurdish Cultural Centre

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The Independent Online

The brother of a teenage asylum seeker who was beaten and left for dead in an alleged race hate crime has said he couldn't recognise his brother, whose face was still "very badly smashed" when he visited him in hospital.

Reker Ahmed, a 17-year-old Kurdish Iranian, was left with a blood clot on his brain and a fractured skull when a group set upon him at a bus stop in what police have described as a “brutal attack”. He had reportedly told his attackers just before that he was an asylum seeker.

Reker’s older brother, Hadi Ahmed, visited him at London's King's College Hospital on Tuesday and said he was unrecognisable, adding that his brother also failed to realise who he was due to memory loss.

The 23-year-old said: “I didn't recognise him as well when the first time I saw him. And I saw him the first time he was like 'are you my brother?' and I said 'what do you mean?... yeah I'm your brother what are you talking about?’ It was like that, just shocked. I was just hugging him saying 'you're my brother'.

"He didn't have any affection. He didn't want to hug me. It was horrible. I started crying. It's really bad, I feel really gutted and disappointed about the situation that happened."

Mr Ahmed, who only discovered Reker had been attacked after seeing the news, was accompanied to the hospital by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Kurdish Cultural Centre based in south London. Mr Abdullah said the teenager had been “smashed very badly” in the face, adding that he was being supported by people either side so he could walk and that there were bandages on his arm and leg.

“He lost his memory because he didn't recognise his brother. His face was very badly smashed and all black eyes. If we saw him somewhere else... we couldn't recognise him,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dilshad Mohammed, 21, who was with the young Iranian Kurd when the attackers set upon them, has told of how Reker was talking about how happy he was to have found sanctuary in the UK just 30 minutes before the attack.

“Half an hour before that fight he was telling us 'It was my dream to come to England and I've been here for a few months. That's all I wanted in my life and I'm here now'," said Mr Mohammed.

“Even when he was young he was wishing to come to this country. And now he was telling us 'From a young age I was hoping for it and now I've got it. I'm here I'm happy'. He was hugging me as saying everything is going all right. All we wanted was to come to this country, get the visa, start working and have a nice life."

Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, the borough commander, and council chief executive Jo Negrini visited the scene on Wednesday morning to send a message of support to the community.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said in response to the incident: “Reker Ahmed came to this country seeking refuge and safety but last Friday he got the exact opposite. He was set upon violently in an attack by people here locally, he was very, very badly hurt and thankfully is starting to recover.“

He added that the attack “doesn't represent Britain or Croydon” and said: “When something like this does happen we must do everything we can possibly do to apprehend those that were responsible for this appalling and unacceptable crime.”

Following the incident, charities and experts have warned that the brutal attack against Reker is an extreme case of widespread discrimination against asylum seekers in the UK, which is leading many people seeking refuge to hide their identities for fear of being targeted.

The Metropolitan Police believes more than 30 people may have been involved in the attack, which members of the Kurdish community said has left them worried and shocked. A total of 16 people have been arrested and 13, including a 15-year-old boy, charged with offences including attempted murder and violent disorder.

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