Published: 18:12, 10 June 2019
| Updated: 18:12, 10 June 2019
A fundraiser has been launched for a 17-year-old exchange student left fighting for his life after a reported gang attack.
The victim - a German boy of Lebanese descent - was airlifted to a London hospital after he was assaulted in Whitefriars Street in Canterbury on Thursday evening.
The teenager, who arrived in the city last Monday for a school exchange, remains in hospital in a critical condition and is understood to be in a coma.
He had been due to fly back to Germany, where his family settled nearly three decades ago, on Friday.
A crowdfunder has been launched to raise money for his relatives, who have travelled to the UK to be by his bedside with support from Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield.
Ms Duffield personally appealed to Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Saturday, asking him to expedite an emergency visa for the victim's mother after learning that a visa could take up to five days to process.
She is now with her son, along with two of his brothers, his uncle and two cousins, while his two other brothers remain with his father in Germany.
The fundraising page, set up by Canterbury resident Paul Johnson, says: "This attack on our city cannot be ignored.
"Our city has welcomed visitors for centuries, it is renowned around the world for the hospitality we offer, and the fact that businesses and local people who rely on tourism and the students who come to our home to learn the English language and Canterbury's way of life means we must come together and show our support."
In a statement, the victim's family said they had been "overwhelmed" by the support they have been offered in wake of the devastating attack.
"Following the horrible incident we would like to thank everyone involved in helping the victim's family," they said.
"We would like to especially express our gratitude towards the Home Office, including Sajid Javid MP, and most importantly Rosie Duffield and her team.
"Due to their help, the support of lawyer Jamie Bell and the German Foreign Office, an emergency visa has been arranged for the victim's mother. It's their help that has made it possible for the victim's family to reunite in this devastating time.
"Furthermore, we would like to thank people who have showed compassion and offered their help. This overwhelming response sincerely touched us.
"We deeply appreciate every help whether it be donating money or suggesting asuitable accommodation for our family.
"Last but not least, we highly value the air ambulance and police force's help, who are still investigating in order to find the responsible criminals."
Any funds raised which are not required by the victim or his family will be donated to the Air Ambulance Charity.
The incident has also led to a "march against racism" being called, which will take place by Westgate Towers on Wednesday evening.
Organiser Ben Hickman, who is chair of the Canterbury Labour Party, said: "The attack on Thursday was horrendous. It's part of a trend in Canterbury, and nationwide, of racist attacks over the last couple of years, for reasons that I don't need to spell out.
"The fact is that if you're a person of colour, you're far more likely to be a victim of violent crime. It seems like this is not a one-off.
"My view is that regardless of what happened, that person is far more likely to be set upon by six or seven teenagers, because he wasn't white.
"Racism is bad and Canterbury is a city that has racists in it. We need to wake up to that fact, but also show that there are more anti-racists than there are racists."
The event starts at 6pm, with demonstrators set to march from Westgate Towers to Whitefriars, where the attack took place.
More by this authorAnna MacSwan
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