Muslim brothers 'abused' by rivals' parents on chess trip

 

A gifted young English chess player was physically assaulted and his family subjected to Islamophobic abuse by other parents during a recent competition in Austria, his father claims.

The alleged fracas has plunged the sport's governing body in England – the English Chess Federation (ECF) – into a racism row amid claims that officials initially did not do enough to tackle the abuse.

Officials have belatedly begun investigating the incident and the Metropolitan Police is expected to start taking statements later today from those involved.

Suhayl Rahman, a maths teacher from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, told The Independent that his three sons, Yousef, 13, Ibrahim, 10 and Ieysaa, seven, were subjected to abuse from other English parents during a junior chess championship in the Austrian town of Mureck.

All three are talented chess players and Ieysaa went on to win a bronze medal at the games. But the family claim their trip was marred by the increasingly hostile reception they received from the parents of fellow competitors.

According to Mr Rahman's testimony, trouble began when his wife, Tomasina Contu, complained that the hotel they were staying in would not serve halal food despite assurances that their dietary requirements would be catered for. The competition was being held in the middle of Ramadan.

The abuse allegedly began with snide remarks but intensified throughout the two-week competition, with one parent allegedly spitting at Mrs Contu and another allegedly grabbing Yousef by the chest until blood was drawn.

At one point, Mrs Contu, an Italian-born convert to Islam who wears a hijab, even had to call for a police escort to take her from the venue back to the hotel because of concerns over her family's safety.

In a series of emails sent to the Rahman family during the competition which have been seen by The Independent, officials at the ECF said they recognised that there was "an increased risk" to the safety of both Mrs Contu and Yousef from the parents of other competitors.

But nothing was done to exclude the potentially violent parents from the venue or from having contact with the children. Instead, the Rahman family were asked to move into a separate hotel, a request that they refused.

On the final day, Mr Rahman said his eldest son, Yousef, was assaulted by the mother of another competitor after he tried to watch his brother's game.

"His path was blocked by another parent," he told The Independent. "So he went round her and she grabbed him by his left pec, sunk her claws into his skin and yanked him back. He was bleeding, he was crying and he suffered bad bruising. It was quite terrible." A photograph of Yousef taken soon after the incident shows his chest marred by a deep, purple bruise.

Mr Rahman said his family felt let down by the ECF, whom he accused of ignoring their repeated concerns. He has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate.

On Wednesday the English Chess Federation issued a new statement saying that the Rahman family’s allegations were “unfounded”. It said that while there was a “disagreement amongst the families” at the tournament, it was not based on racism or religious intolerance. However the federation has yet to decide whether it will make the contents of the report they have compiled public. A spokesperson for the group said it would need to take legal advice before any such move.

The full statement from the ECF read as follows: “The ECF has completed a thorough investigation into the events that took place at the European Union Youth Chess Championships in Mureck, Austria, between 31 July and 9 August 2012. The investigation obtained statements from eye-witnesses.  It concluded that the allegations of racist or Islamophobic abuse and of a physical attack are unfounded.”

“The report found that there was a disagreement amongst the families of the England team that resulted from complaints of perceived disruptive behaviour by individual children.  There is no evidence that racism or religious intolerance played any part. The claims concerning provision of suitable food during the event are inconsistent with both the facts and the extensive efforts made by the tournament organisers, hotel management and ECF Head of Delegation to ensure that the requirements of all members of the England delegation were met.”

“The ECF takes any charge of racism or religious intolerance extremely seriously and we absolutely condemn discriminatory behaviour of any kind. The ECF is also committed to the safety of all competitors who take part in tournaments at home and abroad.”

Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget the rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit