Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 13:11 UK

Talks follow Arab student's death

Mohammad Al-Majed
Mohammad Al-Majed had spent five weeks in Hastings

A seaside town where a student from Qatar died after a suspected racially-motivated attack is safe for foreign visitors, community leaders have said.

Mohammed Al-Majed, 16, suffered a serious head injury outside a takeaway in Hastings and died two days later.

Three men - two aged 18 and one aged 20 - and a 17-year-old youth were arrested and bailed after the incident.

Student leaders, council leaders and police held discussions in the East Sussex town on Thursday.

'Racist feelings'

The town sees up to 35,000 overseas students arrive each year and has undergone a multi-million pound regeneration project to get rid of its tarnished image as a downtrodden resort.

Hastings and Rye MP Michael Foster said the town was "essentially safe".

But he said: "We need to recognise there are racist feelings among some members of our community and they are unacceptable."

Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Pragnell insisted the town - which is said to be home to people of at least 100 different nationalities - was a "welcoming place".

A memorial ceremony for Mohammed is being held in Hastings on Monday.

Ch Insp Mark Ling said the major crime branch was treating the teenager's death as a top priority.

Kebab House

But he said crimes against foreign students were low, with 12 assaults recorded between April and August this year.

Mohammed was with friends near the USA Fried Chicken and Kebab House, when a row broke out with a group of local teenagers on Friday night.

Police said he died from injuries caused by falling and hitting his head on the ground.

Det Ch Insp Graham Pratt said they were trying to find out how he came to fall, and whether he was assaulted, punched or pushed near the junction of Robertson Street and the A259 seafront road.

A student at the EF International Language Schools in White Rock, Mohammed had spent five weeks in the town and had been due to return home this weekend.

Mohammed's father, Abdullah, has called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

He said the death of his "charming, loving boy" had devastated the family.

Dead student 'hit head in fall'
26 Aug 08 |  Sussex
Student, 16, dies after assault
25 Aug 08 |  Sussex

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