Published: 09:20, 20 June 2019
| Updated: 09:44, 20 June 2019
The family of a German schoolboy left fighting for his life after a brutal gang attack in Canterbury is praying they hear him laugh again.
Daniel Ezzedine, who has just turned 17, was airlifted to hospital after he suffered horrific injuries in the shocking assault in Rose Lane.
His family say doctors initially gave him a 30% chance of survival, but he is now in an induced coma and his condition is said to be improving.
So far, seven people – including six teenagers – have been arrested in connection with the attack, which happened at about 6pm on Thursday, June 6. No one has been charged.
Daniel, who is the youngest of five brothers, was in Canterbury on his graduation trip, having arrived in the city three days before the attack. He was due to fly home the following day.
His brother, Bassam Ezzedin, has asked well-wishers via Facebook to keep Daniel in their prayers, calling his little brother “my lion” and saying: “I am infinitely proud of you”.
In an interview with German media outlet RTL, Bassam said: “To start with the doc told us his chance of survival would be 30%. That was heartbreaking for us.
“Today (June 11) he has called to say the outlook is to an extent better and his condition is no longer life-threatening.
“He’s in intensive care in hospital lying in an induced coma. We’ll have to wait and see.
“They’re trying to wake him up, to pull him out of it, but whether there’s long-term damage, they don’t know.
“It was difficult in the first few days. My mum could not get to England because she didn’t have a visa.
“When you’re not by your child’s side when he could die, that’s the worst that can happen.
“We simply had nothing to go on, how he was doing.
“The most important thing is simply that someone is by his side.
“My two older brothers are there, my mum’s there. And I hope that he’ll soon get better.
“We can only hope and pray that there’s an end to it soon. And that he’s soon sitting here and we can laugh and enjoy ourselves again.”
Daniel’s family moved to Germany from Lebanon 30 years ago.
His mother, as a non-EU citizen, had to wait three days to fly to the UK to see her son because of visa issues eventually resolved by Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield and Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
A fundraising appeal to support Daniel’s family has raised more than £14,000.
Also posting on Facebook, Mirna Nazal Berjaoui said: “Habibi Daniel, my little brother, my heart is bleeding.
“Please wake up from your coma and stand up. You are a strong boy. You still have your life ahead of you. We all have so much to do with you.
“Daniel, we are waiting for you, we want you. The whole world is praying for you.”
Police carried out a search of the River Stour on Saturday, June 8, where they also made inquiries in connection with the attack.
Those arrested in connection with the incident have all been released on bail.
They include five teenagers from Canterbury - two 15-year-old boys, a 16-year-old girl, and two boys aged 16 and 17.
A 17-year-old boy from Margate was also arrested, along with a 44-year-old man suspected of assisting an offender.
March for Daniel
Police have yet to confirm if they believe the attack on Daniel Ezzedine was racially motivated.
But last Wednesday (June 12) hundreds of people descended on Canterbury for a “march against racism” to support the German schoolboy.
The event was organised by city residents in the wake of the assault, which Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield branded a “horrific and shameful stain” on the city.
People gathered at Westgate Towers before marching along the High Street to Whitefriars.
Along the way, they chanted slogans such as “say it loud, say it clear - don’t give in to racist fear”.
Signs and banners bore phrases including “stand up to racism”, “smash fascism and racism” and “stop racist attacks - unite and fight”.
Representatives from Canterbury Mosque, Kent Refugee Help and Canterbury & Whitstable Labour were among those present.
Afterwards, Daniel's brother Bassam said: "I thank every single person who was involved."