Malaysian student Ashraf Haziq says he “feels sorry” for the people who mugged him during riots in Hackney earlier this week.
The 20-year-old said he was saddened by the attack on Monday when a group stole his bicycle, leaving him with a broken jaw.
“I feel sorry for them. But it was really sad because amongst them there were children,” he said.
“He was in primary school I think. It was quite shocking to me.”
I feel sorry for them. But it was really sad because amongst them there were children. It was quite shocking to me. Ashraf Haziq
Following the theft of his bike, he was helped to his feet by an apparent ‘Good Samaritan’ only to have his backpack rifled by a surrounding crowd. Video of the incident showing his phone and game console being taken, has been viewed by millions on YouTube and provoked widespread outrage. David Cameron described the incident as “disgusting”.
A man in his twenties was arrested on Thursday afternoon in connection with the attack on Ashraf.
However, the injured student said despite his parents’ concerns, he was determined to stay in London.
“Britain is great. I will encourage people to come to London to study.
“I plan to finish my study here. And then I will return home in two years’ time.”
He described the efforts of genuine well-wishers to help him after the attack and thanked the British people for their support and donations.
“It was very nice of you to help me. I really appreciate it”.
But confessing that the attention had been overwhelming, he said “I’m just a normal person, I would like to go back to a normal life.”
The internet campaign to help Ashraf has already raised thousands of pounds.
Jamie Cowen, a former Save the Children worker, set up the website which enables people to donate money and vote on how it should be spent.
Options include “Paying for his family to come and visit Ashraf in hospital”, “Paying his student fees” and “Paying for his dental costs” to fix the tooth damage he sustained in the attack.
A number of businesses have also pledged donations to the student, including a bicycle from Bigfish bikes, and a PlayStation from Sony.
Mr Cowen promised that all donations will be spent on Ashraf.
“I give my word that the money that’s in there will be treated properly and it will go where it’s intended.”
“This is a chance for Britain to demonstrate they didn’t want to see these images flash around the world in their name. We’re a good bunch of people, by and large.”
Read more from Channel 4 News's coverage of the UK riots
Ashraf’s campaign is not the only one that has gained widespread attention for helping victims of the riots.
89-year-old barber Aaron Biber had his shop damaged in Saturday’s violence in Tottenham.
But the community have rallied around him, raising more than £14,000 in the space of a few days.
People on Twitter and Facebook have said the donations and well-wishes have “restored their faith” in the British public.
Raising funds and spirits through social media two
@debbiestephens #keepaaroncutting It’s gone from £1500 last night to £14k half an hour ago. I donated a £fiver :) help this guy out two
@misslilyfortune #keepaaroncutting I’ve donated, bless him. A lifetimes hard work destroyed by thugs. Let’s get him up and running again. X two
@Scornwell5 People have restored my faith in the British public. http://t.co/zYTUqUo #keepaaroncutting two
@ themund6 Despite the riots, this proves what a great country we live in. £14k in no time. Superb. #keepaaroncutting two
@benbrazier Social media at its best. http://t.co/4BPFQpJ #somethingniceforashraf two
@jamiecowen loads of people donating. Best of British! Lovely. Will update on running total #somethingniceforashraf two
@AmyNormaLee This gives me hope http://t.co/CZlwGSY #somethingniceforashraf well done @jamiecowen and @eswilkies