A Muslim man from Durham has claimed that that he was beaten up after wishing someone a merry Christmas.

Ihsan Abualrob told the Northern Echo that he was repeatedly kicked across his body by three men on Christmas Eve.

The 27-year-old was taken to hospital after the attack which took place outside a pub in Durham at 8.40pm on the 24 December.

Two men have since been arrested on suspicion of a racially or religiously aggravated assault.

The Palestinian graduate is currently a student at Durham University undertaking a masters in politics and international relations.

Speaking to the Northern Echo, he said: "I have bruises on my face, my knee is badly injured and above all, I have a bad concussion. I am dizzy and with a terrible headache and have blurred vision.

"My heart is broken and I am emotionally overwhelmed. I wished them a merry Christmas and they, instead of doing the same, attacked me."

He explained that he and a friend had only gone to the pub to play some pool, before the situation escalated.

Abualrob explained that a "British man" approached the pair and after asking where they were from, enquired as to whether they were suicide bombers.

The student and his friend, who is from Egypt, attempted to leave the pub when three men approached them outside.

Attempting to diffuse the situation, he simply said "Merry Christmas, enjoy your holiday" and didn't say any more.

As the pair crossed the street, the trio followed them, throwing an empty glass at them before it turned physical.

"One of them lunged at me and punched me on my left check and I fell to the ground. Then three of them started kicking me in the head, shoulders and body. I grabbed my head in my arms trying to protect my face.

"I managed to get away and tried to get into the bar for protection. Because I was so dizzy I fell in front of the pub," Abualrob explained.

A spokesperson for Durham Police said: "Police were called to an assault outside the Happy Wanderer pub in Durham at around 8.40pm on Christmas Eve.

"One man was taken to University Hospital North Durham with minor injuries. A 49-year-old man and a 23-year-old have been arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault with injury."