Taxi driver badly hurt in horrifying unprovoked racist attack
- Credit: Ella Wilkinson
A cabbie who fled war-torn Iraq to settle in Norwich has spoken of his horror after being seriously hurt in a brutal suspected racial attack.
Father-of-two Sahd Suliman was between jobs at around 8.30pm on Saturday evening when he was approached by a stranger in Magdalen Street in the city, after visiting an off licence for a mid-shift snack.
The 37-year-old said he had spotted a blond man being abusive to staff in the shop and had advised the shopkeeper to call the police before the situation escalated.
But when the man spotted him give the shopkeeper a friendly wave, he turned his attention to Sahd.
He said: "I saw that he was trying to make trouble and was shouting so I asked the owner to call the police before something bad happened - and then it happened to me.
"He came straight up to me and I asked him to leave me alone, told him I had to get to my next job and couldn't be late. I turned and put my hand on my door handle and the next thing I remember I was on the floor."
Emergency services attended including paramedics and the police, while he was also helped by passers-by and workers in the nearby off licence and a restaurant.
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Sahd, who sought refuge in England with his wife and children in 2008, believes the assault was racially motivated.
He said: "I think he saw me wave at the shopkeepers and thought 'they're foreign, he must be foreign too'. And he then said to me 'you're foreign, I'm English, there's nothing you can do'.
"I just can't stop thinking ' why me?' 'What have I done?'"
Mr Suliman said since moving to Norwich his experiences were positive and this was the first time he had been physically attacked, but that he was now worried to return to work.
The attack left him bloodied and bruised and with deep scars on his head.
He added: "All I said to him was that I had to go and to leave me alone, I said nothing else and he tried to kill me."
His wife, Gulstan, 33, said the incident had been particularly hard on his two children, 17-year-old daughter Barez and 12-year-old son Mohammed.
She said: "Our children have been heartbroken by it. We've taught them to believe that people are all the same, but this is just such an awful experience.
"We've been more than 10 years and have never had anything like this happen before - he has never said anything offensive and he has been assaulted - it's heartbreaking.
"All our neighbours know us and we have never been in trouble - all we have for people is love and respect - he just does not deserve this."
It is not the first time ABC taxis, the company Sahd drives for, has seen its drivers targeted and has safeguarding training in place for its drivers.
Chris Harvey, spokesman for ABC, said: "We do not condone any abuse towards our drivers, racially of otherwise.
"When something like this happens we will always try to help support our drivers in any way we can and assist the authorities in bringing the people responsible to justice."
A man in his 20s was arrested following the attack and remains under investigation - but no charges have been made so far.
A Norfolk Constabulary spokeswoman said: "Officers were called to reports of a man being verbally abusive on Magdalen Street at approximately 8.30pm on Saturday July 17.
"During the incident, another man, aged in his 30s, was assaulted and received a head injury which needed medical treatment.
"A man, aged in his 20s, was arrested on suspicion of assault and public order offences. He has since been released on police bail whilst officers continue with their enquiries."