Many of the images currently coming out of the London riots are disturbing, to say the least. With the violence spreading to other English cities including Liverpool and Birmingham, the financial toll will be high, but the cost to the average person caught in the riots could be much higher. Stories of family owned businesses occupying buildings that are well over 100 years old but are now charred husks are coming to light, hundreds of people have been arrested and a few deaths have also been reported. But one of the most disturbing images comes from a video shot in Northern London on Monday night, as a young man with a broken jaw, sitting in a pool of blood, is helped to his feet only to be mugged.
Malaysian student, Ashraf Haziq, 20, was walking to see a friend when he was randomly attacked and severely beaten. The attackers broke Haziq’s jaw, knocked out several teeth and stole his bike. As he lay bloody and beaten, a second group approached him, seemingly to help him up, but then proceeded to riffle through his backpack and steal his wallet, phone and a Sony PSP.
The video below has aired several times across Great Britain, and his story has been reported by most of the major newspapers. As a result, Haziq has since become something of a poster boy for the lawlessness and violence of the riots, and many see his attack as symbolic of the nature of the riots themselves.
In response to the incident, a website was created called “Let’s Do Something Nice for Ashraf,” which is asking for donations to be used to help Haziq (there is a poll to decide exactly how best to use the money). The site has gained the attention of many, including Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) marketing director Alan Duncan, who posted to the site that Sony would “like to give him a new PSP and games.”
A rep for SCEE later confirmed with VG247 that they were looking for Haziq, and that Namco Bandai has also pledged to send a package of games to him.
Whether it is a genuinely nice act or a PR stunt, it is a good move by Sony, who have been dealing with their own problems during the London riots. Earlier this week rioters looted and burned a Sony distribution center in Enfield, a borough in Northern London.
Haziq, who has only been in England for a little over a month, is currently recovering in a London hospital and will likely need a metal plate in his jaw following surgery. The police have identified at least one of the men involved in the mugging, and arrests are said to be forthcoming.