‘Horrifying antisemitic attack’: Anti-racist vigil to take place in Highbury after old man is beaten up

Islington Town Hall. Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall. Picture:Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

An anti-racist vigil and protest will be held in Highbury tonight after an elderly man was battered in a horrifying antisemitic attack, leaving Islington reeling.

An anti-racist vigil and protest will be held in Highbury tonight after an elderly man was beaten up in a suspected antisemitic attack, leaving Islington reeling.

Campaign group Stand Up To Racism is urging the community to come together in a show of solidarity and defiance against the racist thug seen pummelling a 69-year-old man with a walking stick at Highbury Corner yesterday afternoon.

Police are investigating after an attacker reportedly asked the victim if he was Jewish before launching a brutal attack in broad daylight.

A man, 44, has been detained under the Mental Health Act and Scotland Yard said the incident is being treated as a hate crime.

Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism, said: “We must come together to condemn this horrific antisemitic attack.

“The racist thug who did this gets confidence from the fact that there has been an increase in antisemitism, islamophobia and racism as a consequence of the attempt by racist and fascist political parties to scapegoat people.

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“But it is also a result of the hostile environment, parts of the media and the racist poison pushed by people like Tommy Robinson, Donald Trump and antisemites like Victor Orban in Hungary. We must unite to oppose racist attacks and the rise in racism. Our thoughts go out to the victim and his family.”

Jeremy Corbyn last night tweeted: “Today in Islington an elderly man was violently assaulted because he was Jewish. This racist attack has shaken our community.

“I’ve spoken with local councillors and we will be supporting the police.

“I urge anyone who saw anything to contact the police.”

Ch Supt Raj Kohli, who leads Islington and Camden police, tweeted: “So very sorry for the victim, his family and the wider Jewish community for this awful and targeted attack.

“Hate crime is vile, unacceptable and makes minority communities feel vulnerable. [Camden and Islington police] will do our utmost to find out who did this.”

Witness Marian Kennedy told the Gazette yesterday: “He was punching him violently and right in the face.

“The older gentleman was utterly defenceless. He was being hit really hard and my instinct was jump between them but there was so much rage and violence.

“There was nothing I could do. The older man was not retaliating at all. He was just standing there as the guy repeatedly swung.

“The old man wasn’t aggressive. He was just taking the blows. He kept going: ‘Please stop’.

“Blood was pouring from the old man’s mouth and his body must have taken a lot of blows. The attacker ran off very fast. He was manic.

Brittany Russell was at the scene when the police arrived and told the Gazette it was “definitely a hate crime”.

She said: “The old man told us that he was standing there to catch his breath when the man came up to him and was asking if he was Jewish.

“Following that the man started to hit him and that’s when I was walking past with my mum.

“My mum and I, along with three others, stood with the victim, while another lady ran onto the road to alert a police van nearby.”

There was a 79.6 per cent increase in the number of antisemitic hate crimes reported in Islington in the 12 months to October, rising from 13 offences to 23.