Nottingham

Muslim 'hugger' shocked by response to blindfolded gesture

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Media captionYusf Pirot wore a sign that said: "I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug."

A Kurdish Muslim teenager who handed out free hugs to strangers while blindfolded said he has been overwhelmed by the response.

Yusf Pirot, 16, of Arnold in Nottingham said he wanted to show the world that not all Muslims were terrorists.

"The reason I wanted to do it was because I grew up in a society where I was being called a terrorist nearly every day," he said.

A video of his hugs has attracted millions of views on social media.

'Brainwashed people'

Another video of a blindfolded Muslim man asking for hugs in the aftermath of the Paris attacks has also gone viral.

Yusf said: "This idea was in my head for a long time - I wanted to send a message out to the world and tell them that I am a Muslim - there are 1.7bn of us in the world that doesn't mean that every single one of us is a terrorist.

"Deep inside I do care - and it hurts me.

"I was really shocked and surprised. I thought it would be a normal video and ... not a big deal. I was like 'wow'."

Image caption The sign on Yusf Pirot read: "I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug."

He said he decided to stage his hug event after hearing about the terrorist attacks in Paris: "I was shocked - why would anyone want to hurt another human being … why would they kill innocent people for no reason?

'Very brave'

"When I was blindfolded I heard a few people saying negative things - one person said to his friend what would happen if I punched him in the face?"

The teenager said "some brainwashed people think it is alright to go and blow themselves up … not all Muslims think the same way".

Wendy Feargrieve of Calverton, who stopped to give Yusf a hug, said: "He was blindfolded and he couldn't see who was going up to him and what they were going to do. I walked up to him... and he put his arms around me and I told him he was very brave to do what he was doing."

Yusf's older brother Salam, who arrived with his family from northern Iraq in 2007, told the BBC: "We are proud of him and what he did."