Although he only recently arrived in the UK in the hope of finding sanctuary, the Kurdish-Iranian teenage asylum-seeker who was allegedly beaten up by up to 30 people outside a Croydon pub on Friday night has become a familiar face in the area, which is home to a bustling Kurdish community.
West Croydon is thousands of miles from 17-year-old Reker Ahmed’s real home. But his friends say that this is where he has whiled away his afternoons after college since arriving in the UK, sometimes having tea or playing dominoes at the Middle East Shisha, a traditional tea house off London Road. Here, the community is in shock over the suspected hate crime that left Reker with a fractured skull and a blood clot on the brain.
On Monday, Reker was moved from intensive care to a mainstream ward after the medical team deemed his situation to be no longer life-threatening. In the words of DCI Jane Corrigan, he was “very lucky not to have lost his life”. His friends said they were unable to visit him at the nearby Croydon University hospital as he was still being guarded by the police.
“He used to play dominoes here,” said Mohammad, who had seen Reker in the tea house many times. “He was polite and wasn’t racist. He was happy he was living here, he was trying to learn English.”
Farhad, a friend, said Reker would then normally take the 198 bus towards Shrublands, where he lives with a legal guardian. Since Reker arrived unaccompanied in the UK, he was placed in the care of a foster parent and was allowed to attend college.
It is unclear if his request for asylum has been approved or whether he was only given temporary protection because he is still under 18. Applicants whose cases have been rejected will be…
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