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Fri 29 Aug 2008 08:43 AM

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UK says sorry over Qatar student's killing

British Ambassador in Doha visits boy's family, says his country is 'sad and very sorry'.

The United Kingdom has officially apologised to Qatar for the tragic murder of student Mohamed Al-Majed.

John Hawkins, the British Ambassador to Qatar, met Mohamed’s family on Thursday to pass on his condolences and up update them on the police investigation continuing in the UK.

Mohamed, 16, who had ambitions to join the military, died from severe head injuries on Sunday, two days after he and his friends were set upon by a gang in the south coastal town of Hastings.

A post-mortem found that the teenager had suffered a skull fracture during the attack, which is being treated as racially motivated by police in the UK.

“Britain prides itself on the fact that hundreds of thousands of people from this region visit the United Kingdom every year. The vast majority of the visitors tell us that they really enjoy their visits and find our country and people to be open and welcoming," Hawkins said in a Gulf Times report on Friday.

“This, if anything, makes us even more appalled by what happened to Mohamed al-Majed. We are sad and very sorry that this could happen in our country.

“It is this message of shock, sorrow and deep regret that I have passed on today to Mohamed al-Majed’s family on behalf of British government, my colleagues at the British embassy in Doha and the British community in Qatar.”

Three men, aged 17, 18 and 20, have been arrested in connection with the incident and have been released on police bail.

A book of condolence outside the takeaway where the attack took place is being filled with messages for the family of Mohamed.

And other Arab students have told local newspapers in the UK how they are in deep shock over the incident.

Sultan Al-Dossary, from Saudi Arabia, said after hearing the news his parents wanted him to return home immediately.

He said: “This is a dangerous place. I will not be coming back.”

As well as being bad for the UK’s relations with other countries, these fears could have a negative effect on the economies of towns such as Hastings, where foreign students contribute up to £35 million to the local economy every year.

It was a difficult start for Hawkins, who only arrived this month in Doha to take up his appointment.

On his arrival he said: “Britain and Qatar have always been very close - economically, politically and culturally - but we clearly now have an excellent opportunity to make the relationship even stronger. The embassy team and I look forward to doing all we can to ensure that this happens."

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jim cumming 12 years ago

sad and disgusted to see yet another teen attacked and killed in the uk. Worse he was someone who was not a uk citizen but a student arriving in the country to learn english. I hope that the three attackers who have been arrested should they be proved guilty feel the full force of the law and not be let off with trivial sentences/community service/fines. Jail them for a long time in a maximum security prison.

Areef Rakhangi 12 years ago

Our perception that the best education is abroad has many dangers. Primary losing the child we send abroad. Qatar's attempt at getting all universities here is a great one and parents should as far as possible send all the students here. What good is it if kids come back in body bag. Its the same in US and UK. Infact the rise of hatred in UK is much more than any other country. Better safe them sorry.

Boby Joseph 12 years ago

It is very very sad, a young life has been lost. He represented the future of the country and he was being trained to take up the future of the country. He had taken to study abroad so as to bring the best of knowledge available to his countries generation to come. It is particularly very sad when a young life is lost in a racist crime in a country which tries to educate better values of democracy and freedom. If the meaning of democracy and freedom means this - there will be few takers for this freedom and democracy. His home country is much safer and peaceful than country he choose to pursue the very values of that education. My heartfelt condolences to the people of Qatar and the parents of the young boy, which is no way conveyed by the English word "Sorry".