Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 17:14 UK

Arab warning after 'racist death'

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

The uncle of a student who died after a suspected racially-motivated attack on the south coast has said Arabs should not send their children to England.

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

Ghazi Abdullah al-Majed told the BBC his nephew had complained about hostility towards Arabs in the town.

But community leaders, who held discussions in Hastings on Thursday, said it was safe for foreign visitors.

Mr al-Majed said Mohammed was worried about his safety before the attack on 22 August.

"He said people were not treating him very well, he said 'they don't like Arabs'.

There is a very bad situation now, not only for Qataris, but for all Arabs
Ghazi Abdullah al-Majed

"I told him just be cool, this is only for three months and then you will come back to your country - you must study."

Mohammad, who had spent five weeks in Hastings studying English, died in Kings College Hospital, London, from head injuries.

Mr al-Majed said he would advise other Arab families against sending their children to England.

"There is a very bad situation now, not only for Qataris, but for all Arabs," he said.

'Extremist groups'

Hastings and Rye MP Michael Foster called Thursday's meeting of student leaders, council leaders and police.

"Hastings is not a racist town," he said.

"For the majority of good people who live in Hastings that is far from their minds.

"But we do have a significant minority of individuals who are racist and they are encouraged by extremist groups that seek to play a part in stirring up unrest."

Hastings kebab shop
Mohammed was attacked outside a kebab shop and died two days later

Following the attack on Mohammed, three men - two aged 18 and one aged 20 - and a 17-year-old youth were arrested and bailed.

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

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

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".

"An event like this - apart from being a dreadful tragedy for Mohammed and his family - is not good for Hastings," he said.

"We are generally a safe place."

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

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

Det Ch Insp Graham Pratt said police 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.

Officers will be in the area on Friday night, a week after the attack, to try to find more witnesses.

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


The local MP has insisted the town is safe

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

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