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Uproar in Spain over videos of ‘Brexit-related attacks’ in UK

Man from Bournemouth found guilty of hitting 27-year-old from Valencia around the head with a wooden plank

Charlotte England
Sunday 30 October 2016 18:05 GMT
CCTV footage shows the moment when a man attacks a Spanish tourist for not speaking English

Two videos of Spaniards being violently assaulted in separate incidents in the UK have gone viral in Spain, fuelling speculation the attacks could be linked to Brexit.

The first video, from May, shows a British man hitting 27-year-old Tomás Gil, from Valencia, in the face with a wooden plank after shouting at him to “speak English”. It was released this month after the assailant was convicted of assault and bodily harm.

The guilty verdict coincided with a second incident, in which a man was filmed punching 31-year-old Bangladeshi, Jubair Ahmed, in the face as he travelled through east London with his Spanish wife Kilian.

A woman chase a man off of the tube after a racially aggravated assault

Ms Ahmed is shown chasing down the attacker, who got off the train at Upton Park, and berating him in Spanish.

Daniel Way, 37, was convicted of the first attack, which happened in Bournemouth on 19 May, after CCTV footage of the incident was shown in court.

Way was given a 12-month suspended sentence, in addition to 150 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay Mr Gil £800 in compensation.

Mr Gil told Spanish newspaper El País he had been living in Britain for four years when the attack occurred, but had never previously experienced prejudice.

He said he had been in a pub with a group of friends before he walked outside with a woman, called Silvia, at about 5am.

He told El País that Way “came at us from the other side, screaming 'you f***ing Spanish, speak English', and I faced up to him a bit.

“Silvia told me to let it go. And then... well, you see it in the video: he pretends to leave, gets the stick... and takes good aim,” Mr Gil said.

Several people who witnessed the attack ran to help Mr Gil and then restrained the attacker until police arrived.

Mr Gil said his face was swollen for a week, especially around the jaw, but he did not suffer any broken bones or other significant injuries.

Mr Gil complained to El País that he was not notified of the verdict or about his compensation. He found out through media coverage and through Way, who contacted him on Facebook to apologise.

“I suppose his lawyer must have recommended it," he said.

"He told me he needs to start paying me next month... I have heard more from him than I have from the police or the courts."

Mr Gil added he had decided to return to Spain before the attack. He is now a social worker in Valencia.

In the four years he spent in Britain, he said he worked in a kitchen and a factory, and as a sales assistant and a waiter, but he experienced no racism beyond observing a "feeling of superiority" in some British people.

The timing of the incident, as the anti-immigration Leave campaign gained momentum in the run-up to the EU referendum, has led Spanish media to speculate the attack could be linked to Brexit, which some experts have said legitimised and fuelled racist attitudes.

Way's lawyer, however, attributed the incident to a mixture of ADHD, drugs, alcohol and a recent break-up.

“He is extremely ashamed of his use of racist language," Guy Draper told the court. “He can't recall ever holding racist views.”

The second incident, however, has added to a belief in Spain that Spaniards are now in danger of being targeted by racists in the UK.

Footage of the incident on a London train on 17 October, recorded by another passenger on a mobile phone, has been circulated on social media.

The video shows Mr Ahmed, a 31-year-old finance student, being hit in the face by a man who then runs off the train, down the platform.

Ms Ahmed, who studied in Seville before coming to the UK, runs after the assailant, screaming insults at him in Spanish.

A 33-year-old man was later detained by police on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Hate crime soared by 41 per cent the month after the Brexit vote, official figures show.

Meanwhile, a Home Office report showed there was an increase in hate crime of 19 per cent in the year leading up to the vote, between April 2015 and March 2016.

Mr Ahmed told the Sun he had been targeted by racists in the past; the incident in October was the second time he had been the victim of an apparent hate crime in five years.

But he said in recent months he had experienced more racism and seen an increase in similar assaults.

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