Pakistani in Belgium labelled 'terrorist' for carrying cricket bat

Published: November 25, 2014
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Cricketer 22-year-old Assim Abassi from Ukkel in Brussels. PHOTO: THE TELEGRAPH

Cricketer 22-year-old Assim Abassi from Ukkel in Brussels. PHOTO: THE TELEGRAPH

A 22-year-old Pakistani man and his family have lost their right to live in Belgium after he was termed a terrorist for carrying a cricket bat on public transport, The Telegraph reported.

Assim Abassi, a cricket player from Pakistan, made newspaper headlines, warning that an “anti-Semitic” killer was on the loose in Brussels. The newspapers also published Abassi’s photographs carrying what looked like a rifle but was actually his cricket bat.

Soon after spotting himself in the media, Abbasi contacted the police clarifying that he was not armed and was only carrying his cricket bat while on his way for a practice session.

“I wrapped my bat in my sweatshirt because it was raining and if it is wet I can’t play the ball properly,” he said.

Despite contacting the police, the family of seven has lost its right to live in Belgium after the Pakistani embassy in Brussels sacked his father, a diplomat, for damaging Pakistan’s reputation.

“We got a call from the embassy saying give us your passports,” his father said.

“We’ve lost the privilege of living in Belgium. I’ve lost my education. I’ve lost everything.”

The Belgian police have been criticised for failing to apologise to the cricket player and local MPs have taken up his case. However, the Pakistani embassy has refused to comment.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam clarified his father was not sacked and it was a routine transfer matter.

“Muhammad Tufail Abbasi, stenotypist in the commercial section in the Embassy of Pakistan, Brussels, has been transferred back to the headquarters by the Ministry of Commerce on completion of his four year tenure,” the Foreign Office statement said.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Striver
    Nov 25, 2014 - 6:24PM

    Pakistani embassy are spineless idiots and the Belgium authorities even bigger fools.

    The media did its job. Hype and not facts matter in the world of media when they report on Pakistanis.

    Have these fools never seen a cricket bat before. Somebody tell them there are other games in the world then kicking a round leather ball around in a field.

    Get real Belgium give the kid his life back.

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  • lkhan
    Nov 25, 2014 - 6:51PM

    How sick – the Pk Embassy should be looking after the interests of its subjects, not mortifying them. Shame on these so called diplomat nincompoops who have no clue as to what bringing shame on the country’s reputation signifies. Hopefully the Belgian local authorities will do them justice. All my sympathy for Assim Abassi and his family.

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  • Bewildered
    Nov 25, 2014 - 6:58PM

    Just bewildered.

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  • Stranger
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:05PM

    The villian seems to be the Pak embassy . is this how they treat their honest employees. Its understandable that some one misunderstood this boy and his bat but then it should be investigated before passing judgements .
    So many years of hard work of the boy’s father down the drain .

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  • Cynic Waheed
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:07PM

    All the staff in Pakistan Embassy including His Excellency the Ambassador must be sacked instead for not PROTECTING an an innocent Pakistani – which I thought was a primary responsibility i.e. providing cousular services? Tell me I am being harsh?

    Useless staff!

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  • Zara
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:27PM

    If anything, the Pakistani embassy in Brussels has “tarnished” Pakistan’s reputation by not defending their own citizens.
    Shame on them. If the boy has done no wrong, the embassy should have backed him up instead of sacking his father. They just showed the world that Pakistani’s treat their citizens like scum and that only makes it all right for other countries to do the same.
    Until the government does not take a stand and refuse to be bullied by foreign bodies in this manner, nothing will improve the image of our citizens.

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  • Imran Qadri
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:28PM

    Simply mind boggling.. and they call themselve civilized nations..!

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  • sana
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:43PM

    Shame on Pakistan’s foreign office for being apologetic as usual. Instead of supporting the Pakistani cricketer and demanding an apology from the Belgian Govt., it has instead sacked his father and punished the entire family for no fault of theirs. When our own Govt and foreign office will behave spinelessly and readily go down on its knees, foreign governments will naturally trample and walk all over us. When will we learn to respect ourselves first.

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  • Fawad
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:46PM

    Pakistani government has never defended any Pakistani abroad. It seems that all Pakistani’s living outside Pakistan are orphans.

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  • Hassan Y
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:52PM

    If it was Israel or American citizen carrying a bat and was called terrorist, imagine their embassy would have shake the parliament of Belgium.
    Guilt of Belgium and Pakistani boy suffered.
    Real shame goes to Pakistan Embassy in Belgium, seems incompetent peoples are working their.

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  • Mega
    Nov 25, 2014 - 8:21PM

    Its not the Belgium police but the Belgium media that has to apologise for printing fabricated masala news. And the pakistan embassy who took back his passport even after learning the news was fake, because good or bad you put country’s name in spotlight and disrepute.
    The guy must file defamation case, monetary loss,mental hassasment case against Belgium media and pak embassy.

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  • Chachoo
    Nov 25, 2014 - 9:02PM

    Just dismiss the senior staff of Belgium embassy and also expel Belgium envoy back home for a few days. This was a purely racist incident where A Pakistani guy was in the headlines without proper investigations. It was not only the Belgium media but the Racist French media picked up that news as well. French media is very much Anti-Pakistani and everyone knows that very well.
    Pakistan should launch the strongest possible protest against such issues as Europe call themselves civilized but call us Third class Third World Citizens and look how they treat the people out of ignorance.

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  • umair
    Nov 25, 2014 - 9:19PM

    if they say he was transferred back to Pakistan after serving his 4 year tenure whats all the ruckus about? I see the media making a mountain out of nothing. Belgium should apologize and the stenotypist should come back to Pakistan and report for duty.

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  • observer
    Nov 26, 2014 - 1:29AM

    I am sure there is more than what meets the eye in this case. Belgium is not going to deport anyone for carrying a cricket bat. Also, Pak embassy is not going to act against someone without proper cause. Apparently, the Belgian police must have done surveillance on this guy for a while and determined that he is a terror sympathizer or collaborator. One question, why was this guy trying to play cricket in the rain?

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  • kafirmusafir
    Nov 26, 2014 - 5:24AM

    @Chachoo: What Belgium is doing is certainly not out of ignorance. They know what they are doing. It has some connection with Asia Bibi and the Christian couple burned alive in the brick kiln.

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  • kafirmusafir
    Nov 26, 2014 - 5:29AM

    @Zara: Is the attitude of Pakistan with regards Pakistani citizens not too dissimilar than abandoning 90,000+ soldiers in 1971 in East Pakistan, or in Kargil in 1999, or denying 26/11 rampage in Mumbai. Do you not see a pattern?

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  • wb
    Nov 26, 2014 - 5:55AM

    Take it easy Pakistanis.

    It’s perfectly possible that he was carrying something else and he had lied that he was only carrying a cricket bat.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 26, 2014 - 7:38AM

    Embassy didn’t do anything wrong. The boy’s father had completed his tenure, therefore he was transferred. Belgium government also didn’t do anything contrary to law. Nobody was arrested, nor charged anyone. Family is using a media report to stay in Belgium. Though it was media’s aggressive news reporting but considering situation, the boy’s style and hidden bat which looked like a gun were the reasons media freaked out.

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  • MAK
    Nov 26, 2014 - 8:43AM

    @observer: how about if it was an indoor practice session.

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  • James
    Nov 26, 2014 - 9:04AM

    @Fawad:

    Are they defending the people living in Paksitan..

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  • Ricky
    Nov 26, 2014 - 9:49AM

    The news initially gives the impression that Belgium govt expelled the cricketer for carrying his bat. Abbasi family can still continue to live in Belgium but it is Pakistani embassy and govt which transferred his job and that ended the family’s legal status in the country. They were temp workers anyway and had to leave one day or the other.

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  • Nov 26, 2014 - 11:05AM

    This is really bad. They should conduct a complete inquiry regarding this matter before imposing any decision.

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  • arun
    Nov 26, 2014 - 3:01PM

    family of seven???? How is that possible

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  • Malatesh
    Nov 26, 2014 - 3:36PM

    It is again proved that Pakistani Gvt is responsible for the problems Pakistanis facing across the world and even in Pakistan.

    Its not a conspiracy to malign Pakistan.

    You should learn some lessons from other countries like India’s example how it handled Devyani Korbgade’s incident.

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  • bahadur khan
    Nov 26, 2014 - 5:11PM

    This sacking of the pakistani diplomat is unfortunate. There are many cricket clubs in Belgium. and presence of diamond business dealers from India, sub continent, Many persons could have come forward to defend the person. I personally know diamond dealers who are dealing with europeans, and take lunch in desi hotels in Brussels, There is something more than this.

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  • Dija
    Nov 27, 2014 - 8:57AM

    Again I would say – you need people with intellect and some brains to be running the affairs of the Nation – a small matter completely blown out of proportion needed to be dealt with some tact rather than pleasing the foreign media and taking a stupid step of calling the entire family back and making them suffer for nothing and making a fool of the Nation as well!!!

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  • Mudathir Shah
    Nov 27, 2014 - 1:16PM

    His father has ended his tenure and heading back. There is no fault of the Embassy. People should realize the facts before jumping the bandwagon. The incident and his return have coincided.

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  • Imran
    Nov 27, 2014 - 5:07PM

    @kafirmusafir: yeah I see the pattern , it’s called Indian obsession with pakistan. The topic has nothing to do with India and some how here you are with your usual crying. Look at me look at me Iam an Indian victim.

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  • shilpa kapoor
    Nov 27, 2014 - 11:05PM

    Pakistan should sack all it staff and particularly 1st, 2nd and third secretary including Ambassador, what a joke instead of Embassy making Belgium apologise they giving impression as their citizen are cattle.
    i cannot believe but i foresee that sooner or later this trend on Muslims will grow as planned and i feel ashamed.
    Shame on Pakistani Govt, so as the foreign office who did not summon belgium ambassador in Islamabad.

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