UPDATE (3 Mar, 3.22pm): The assault is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police in London, a spokesman told the The Straits Times, calling it a “racially aggravated assault”.
UPDATE (4 Mar, 8.10pm): The Singapore High Commission, in a Facebook post, has said that it is “deeply disturbed” by the assault, and is in contact with the student. It has also been in touch with the Metropolitan Police Service, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak turned into a global phenomenon, many around the world have gone into panic-mode, at times losing their ability to think logically and act rationally.
Most troubling of all, some people have resorted to racist acts, especially towards members of the Chinese race, since the new coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China.
Recently, a Singaporean man studying in the UK was brutally beaten by a group of racist attackers and suffered horrific injuries.
So why did he get beaten?
Apparently for no reason, apart from his skin colour. One attacker even made this remark,
I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.
He took to Facebook on Tuesday (3 Mar) to recount the incident. We summarise his post after the jump.
On the night of 24 Feb at about 9.15pm, Jonathan – a Singaporean studying in the UK – was walking along the bustling Oxford Street in London.
For those who have not visited the English capital, Oxford street is the equivalent of Orchard road, and is even touted as the busiest street in Europe.
He walked past a group of young men, one of whom apparently gave Jonathan a look and mouthed a word which sounded like “coronavirus”.
Jonathan was taken aback and turned around to glance at the person who made the remarked.
Out of nowhere, the man shouted back,
Don’t you dare look at me you…
He could not make out the last word due to their accent.
The confrontation escalated within seconds. In no time, the group of men were in Jonathan’s face.
Without warning, someone from the group threw a punch at Jonathan’s face.
While he was still in a state of shock, the same guy punched him a second time.
By that time, some passers-by had reportedly gathered and told the group not to gang up on the lone Singaporean.
Jonathan tried explaining to the passers-by that he hadn’t done anything at all, but got a kick from the initial attacker’s friend.
The Singaporean student tried defending himself, but couldn’t as he was still recovering from a broken finger.
The person who swung the kick then apparently said,
I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.
He followed up with another sucker punch to Jonathan face, which caused his nose to ‘explode’ with blood.
By then, a member of the public had presumably called the police. However, the group managed to escape the scene before the cops arrived.
Jonathan was brought to the A&E for treatment. He apparently suffered facial fractures and may have to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Here’s a look at the injuries sustained immediately after the incident.
The bruising got worse the next day.
In the post, Jonathan also urged anyone who witnessed the incident to step up and provide evidence or more information to the UK Police.
Reflecting on the incident, Jonathan wrote that the coronavirus outbreak has given racists a new excuse to “expound their hatred”.
These actions come in different forms, from refusing to serve a Chinese-looking individual to racially-charged hate crimes, but every one of them boils down to the same evil — racism.
Jonathan also shared that while not every member of society is racist, it doesn’t change the fact that racism is an “ugly problem” that has been around for a long time.
Furthermore, by highlighting the seemingly small portion of society that are racist, we are also doing the racist people a service by belittling the problem.
While Covid-19 was first discovered in Wuhan China, there’s absolutely no reason for everyone to treat Chinese nationals and those ethnically Chinese with such hostility.
Remember, the citizens of China, like the rest of the world, don’t want this to happen.
As the world tackles outbreak together, let’s not make matters worse by sowing discord between different segments of society.
We wish Jonathan a speedy recovery and hope the UK police will identify and punish those involved in the alleged assault.
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