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Muslim Brothers ‘Abused’ by ‘Rivals’ Parents on Chess Trip

15 August 2012 General 10 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

(The Independent)

A gifted young English chess player was physically assaulted and his family subjected to Islamophobic abuse by other parents during a recent competition in Austria, his father claims.

The alleged fracas has plunged the sport’s governing body in England – the English Chess Federation (ECF) – into a racism row amid claims that officials initially did not do enough to tackle the abuse.

Officials have belatedly begun investigating the incident and the Metropolitan Police is expected to start taking statements later today from those involved.

Suhayl Rahman, a maths teacher from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, told The Independent that his three sons, Yousef, 13, Ibrahim, 10 and Ieysaa, seven, were subjected to abuse from other English parents during a junior chess championship in the Austrian town of Mureck.

All three are talented chess players and Ieysaa went on to win a bronze medal at the games. But the family claim their trip was marred by the increasingly hostile reception they received from the parents of fellow competitors.

According to Mr Rahman’s testimony, trouble began when his wife, Tomasina Contu, complained that the hotel they were staying in would not serve halal food despite assurances that their dietary requirements would be catered for. The competition was being held in the middle of Ramadan.

The abuse allegedly began with snide remarks but intensified throughout the two-week competition, with one parent allegedly spitting at Mrs Contu and another allegedly grabbing Yousef by the chest until blood was drawn.

At one point, Mrs Contu, an Italian-born convert to Islam who wears a hijab, even had to call for a police escort to take her from the venue back to the hotel because of concerns over her family’s safety.

In a series of emails sent to the Rahman family during the competition which have been seen by The Independent, officials at the ECF said they recognised that there was “an increased risk” to the safety of both Mrs Contu and Yousef from the parents of other competitors.

But nothing was done to exclude the potentially violent parents from the venue or from having contact with the children. Instead, the Rahman family were asked to move into a separate hotel, a request that they refused.

On the final day, Mr Rahman said his eldest son, Yousef, was assaulted by the mother of another competitor after he tried to watch his brother’s game.

“His path was blocked by another parent,” he told The Independent. “So he went round her and she grabbed him by his left pec, sunk her claws into his skin and yanked him back. He was bleeding, he was crying and he suffered bad bruising. It was quite terrible.” A photograph of Yousef taken soon after the incident shows his chest marred by a deep, purple bruise.

Mr Rahman said his family felt let down by the ECF, whom he accused of ignoring their repeated concerns.

The ECF has now launched an investigation and has asked witnesses, including the Austrian police, to provide statements. It expects to publish a report later today. Meanwhile the Rahman family have asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate.

“The ECF is taking the matter extremely seriously and has initiated an investigation. A further statement will be issued as soon as possible,” the ECF said in a statement.

Original post: Muslim Brothers ‘Abused’ by ‘Rivals’ Parents on Chess Trip


  1. Of course attacking a child is appalling.

    However there are suggestions there is more to this than the one sided view being given to the media.

  2. There is such a thing as competition parents rage. Some parents get all worked up over juvenile competitions.

    Interesting to find out all the things that were said.

  3. When you have groups of kids it is best if some people go along that are not parents,esp if it is a competition. Parents can be very one sided in their views and they may get out of hand just as kids get out of hand. There could be no excuse to grab that boy unless he was in danger or was endangering others. If he was disturbing the match then match officials should have handled the problem. I realize there are two sides to a story but that bruise speaks pretty loud.

  4. “I realize there are two sides to a story but that bruise speaks pretty loud.”

    Absolutely, there can be no excuse for that.

  5. It looks like one of those Little League adventures in team parenting.

  6. Isn’t chess prohibited in Islam somewhere?

    Garry Kasparov was roughly arrested at Pussy Riot protest.

  7. jane,

    again, don’t hold your breath.

  8. Daily Star also has word of it.

  9. Funny, the results of organizations that conduct their own “thorough” investigations

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