A BUDDHIST monk who was spat on and assaulted while out for his daily run has described how he was made to feel “degraded and unwelcome” in the town he has called his home for a year.
The monk, 25, who asked not to be named, was born in Sri Lanka and trained for years in Burma and Vienna before moving to the UK to study a Masters in cognitive science at Oxford University.
He lived in London and Hertfordshire, before moving to Colchester earlier this year, where he works for a centre which uses meditation and Buddhist teachings to help with mental health issues.
During lockdown he has been enjoying daily 10km runs to keep fit.
But during one such outing, on Saturday evening at 5.30pm, he was confronted by two young men at the entrance to the underpass in Crouch Street.
“I had 60 Christmas cards in one hand which I was planning to send to friends,” he said.
“In my other I had my phone, I was listening to a podcast.
“I was just going into the underpass when I was suddenly spat on.
“When I looked up, I could see a group of young people laughing at me.
“They didn’t apologise, or say it was a mistake, they laughed at me for about 20 seconds and then I was looking at my phone dialling 999.”
It was then the monk said two of the group, young men aged between 17 and 20, confronted him.
“One of them pushed me to the wall, and then choked me with both hands,” he said.
The monk did not fight back, but was further assaulted when the second man headbutted him.
The attack has had a profound impact upon him and is being treated by police as racially motivated.
“It feels terrible, it feels so degrading. It makes me feel unwelcome,” he said.
“Something keeps going through my mind – which is that I am a Buddhist monk who has meditated every single day for the past ten years.
“With all of the practice and training I have in spiritualness and mindfulness, if I still feel this bad, how must others feel when something like this happens?”
Anyone with information about the attack should call 101, quoting reference number 42/194982/20.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “We are investigating an assault in Colchester which is being treated as racially motivated.”