A Muslim Palestinian thought he was going to die after three men started beating him because he wished them Merry Christmas.

Ihsan Abualrob who is a student at Durham University claims he was kicked and punched in the head and body.

The 27 year old claims that he was attacked around 8:40pm on Christmas Eve in Farmwellgate  Moor, Durham.

Ihsan Abualrob was treated at a local hospital.

Mr Abualrob said: “At one point I lost consciousness. I was helpless and thought this was the end of it. It was so scary and frightening.

“I felt not only in pain but humiliated. I come from Palestine, which is a very conflicted country, and I came here with the hope of having a peaceful life not having to live in fear.

“It’s my first Christmas ever outside of my country and that is my Christmas treat? They did this for nothing, but for me being a Muslim in this country.

“Christmas should be a time of love and hope, not violence.”

Mr Ihsan Abualrob is in the UK as part of the exchange student program,  and is studying Masters in international politics.

He and his friend went to the local pub to play pool but when they got there the pool tables were covered up.

He said: “We don’t drink and were sitting there chatting when out of the blue a British guy approached us, pulled up a chair uninvited and asked where we were from.

“My friend said from Egypt and myself from Palestine. He said: ‘Egypt, Palestine. You Muslims. Are you suicide bombers?’

When they left the pub, he claimed three men were waiting outside for them.

He continued: ‘They started insulting my religion. I said ‘Merry Christmas, enjoy your holiday’ and didn’t say any more.

“We started crossing the street and they followed us. One of them threw an empty glass towards us. Then one of them lunged at me and punched me on my left check and I fell to the ground.

“Then three of them started kicking me in the head, shoulders and body. I grabbed my head in my arms trying to protect my face.

“I managed to get away and tried to get into the bar for protection. Because I was so dizzy I fell in front of the pub.’

Police confirmed two men have been arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault in connection with the incident.

Mr Abualrob said: “I have bruises on my face, my knee is badly injured and above all, I have a bad concussion. I am dizzy and with a terrible headache and have blurred vision.

“My heart is broken and I am emotionally overwhelmed. I wished them a Merry Christmas and they instead of doing the same attacked me.”

Mr Abualrob was taken by police to the University Hospital of North Durham.

A Durham Police spokesman said: “Police were called to an assault outside the Happy Wanderer pub in Durham at around 8.40pm on Christmas Eve.

“One man was taken to University Hospital North Durham with minor injuries.

“A 49-year-old man and a 23-year-old have been arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault with injury.”