His extensive injuries will take months to heal but Abdul-Latif Abdul-Latif has no regrets trying to help three international students from Oman being attacked near a mosque in Gwynneville on Friday night.
Two men have been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company and affray, following the incident near Omar Mosque.
Mr Abdul-Latif’s left kneecap was ‘’totally shattered’’ during the incident and has since been operated on at Wollongong Hospital. He faces months of rehabilitation and possible further surgeries.
One of the students also suffered a broken arm during the incident which happened just minutes after the trio left the Foley Street mosque.
Mr Abdul-Latif had also just finished his evening prayers and was in his car when he noticed the three men being ‘’set upon’’ on a nearby embankment.
The 39-year-old father of four from Mt St Thomas said it was ‘’frightening to comprehend these things were happening in Wollongong’’.
‘’It just seemed to me these two men, they were charged up, they had us in their sights…..but it’s definitely not something that is random,’’ he said.
Wollongong Police confirmed the two men had been drinking at nearby Wiseman Park Bowling Club earlier in the night before being refused service and asked to leave.
‘’So we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But being a Muslim, close to the mosque at this time way past sunset, it is just frightening to comprehend these things are happening in Wollongong,’’ Mr Abdul-Latif said.
Omar Mosque chairman Dr Munir Hussain said unfortunately Friday’s incident was not an isolated case.
‘’We’ve been harassed for a long time,’’ Dr Hussain said.
“A woman has been pushed in the gutter, we’ve been broken in, had beer and wine bottles thrown at the premises resulting in broken windows.
“There have been several incidents of discrimination near the mosque and at local beaches. We are sick of it.’’
Friday’s attack also brought home bad memories for Dr Hussain, who was himself attacked outside his Corrimal pharmacy back in 2003 on the anniversary of 9/11.
‘’That was racially motivated. Four men walked to me and surrounded me and shouted ‘you bloody terrorist, you bloody terrorist’. I was traumatised for a long time and now this happens at the mosque. It’s just not right,’’ he said.
Dr Hussain added the latest incident had wider implications as international students were attacked.
‘’Their [Oman] embassy is getting involved and it does not reflect well on the Australian community at all,’’ he said.