THE NETHERLANDS

Video: Syrian refugee’s calm response to Dutchman's racist rant

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When a man started hurling insults at a Syrian refugee last Tuesday in the small Dutch town of Weert, near the Dutch-Belgian border, the shocked victim started filming the encounter and posted the video on social media.

The footage shows the young Syrian refugee, Eiad Hashem, respond to his aggressor with remarkable calm and presence of mind.

At the beginning of the video, you can see the man yelling at Hashem.

Hashem responds: “Don’t touch me... I’ll go for the police.”

But the man responds “F*** the police. The police don’t like you either." He adds that he is part of a “racism group”.

"What will you do? You will kill me?” Eiad asks.

The man responds: “I’d love to, yes! But it’s not possible.”

He continues to berate the refugee.

“Why do you film that? You are a f***ing Syrian. Don’t film, ok? F*** you! F*** Allah. Allah is a child-lover [Editor’s note: The man does not speak proper English. Here, he is probably trying to indicate that the man is a “paedophile”] I don’t like you and I don’t like the Syrians!”

To end the conversation, Eiad calmly gives the man a big smile.

“Thank you for your kindness, sir."

When the man says he doesn’t like him, Eiad responds: “I like you.”

Footage of the verbal attack sparked widespread condemnation in the Netherlands. Eiad, however, maintains that despite this incident, he has been welcomed to the Netherlands by most Dutch people.

“I got hundreds of letters of support”

Last week, my friends and I were all leaving our integration class, where we focus on studying the Dutch language. A man heard us speaking Arabic and stopped us and asked us where we were from. We thought that he was just curious, so we told him that we’re from Syria. As soon as we said that, he started insulting us and ripping into Islam. We made a collective decision to ignore him.

But this Tuesday, May 24, the same man was there as I was leaving class. He started insulting me so I took out my cell phone and I started filming what was going on.

I remained calm because I didn’t want to stoop to his level. Moreover, I really didn’t want the situation to get any worse. The Koran tells us to remain calm when someone angers us. It also teaches us to forgive.

My friends and I did decide to lodge a formal complaint against that man.

“This assault was really an isolated case”

After I posted the video on Facebook, hundreds of Dutch people sent me messages of support. Many people said that they were ashamed of this man’s behaviour and tried to assure me that most Dutch people are not racist.

I also got messages from many Muslims living in Europe, especially Turkish people and Moroccan people who live in Belgium, who thanked me for having kept my cool in the face of this stream of insults. They told me that my behaviour really provided a positive picture of Muslims living in Europe.

However, I’d like to point out that the verbal assault that I experienced is really an isolated case. I’ve been living here for a year-and-a-half and I have never heard any unpleasant comments about my background or my religion. However, people here are warm and welcoming. I like them a lot.

The authorities have really taken care of us. I was given a home, as well as a monthly stipend. I can also attend free language classes.

To thank the Dutch people I even organised an event six months ago where we made and shared cakes on the holy day of Eid.