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Finnish woman launches fundraiser for British wheelchair-bound Turku defender

Moved by an Yle story about Hassan Zubier, a tourist who came to the rescue during a Turku knife attack in August, a Finnish pensioner has launched a fundraising campaign for the now-disabled man.

Hassan leikkii lapsen kanssa.
This photo of Hassan Zubier and his baby inspired Vaasa resident Sonya Höstman to set up the fundraiser. Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

Sonya Höstman, a resident of Vaasa on Finland’s west coast, has set up a fund to help Swedish resident Hassan Zubier, who lost his mobility after he rushed to the assistance of victims targeted during a knife attack in Turku in August.

Zubier suffered a severed spinal cord and severe nerve damage during the gruesome attack. The assailant was later neutralised by police with a single shot to the leg, before being taken away in an ambulance.

Höstman told Svenska Yle that she was moved by a previous report that indicated that Zubier’s heroic act meant that he likely be confined for a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

"He is young and has a young child, who will need the father’s income," Höstman said, explaining her decision to set up the fund.

Zubier, who is a British national resident in Stockholm, was visiting Turku when the knife attack occurred. A trained paramedic, he sprang into action to help one of the attacker’s victims by applying pressure to the victim’s wounds with his hand. However, he himself became a target and was stabbed several times.

"He said himself that he was no hero, but nevertheless that’s exactly what he is," Höstman added.

Facebook fundraiser

Höstman told Svenska Yle that she was deeply impressed by Zubier’s actions. However the decision to begin a fundraiser took shape when she read the story of his circumstances and saw a photo of him holding his 18-month-old child.

Höstman is herself a mother of four and is currently a pensioner. She said that she had previously been involved in charity work but that this is the first time she will be leading a campaign.

She added that she is still in the early stages of the charity drive, but has already set up a Facebook page under the name "Collection for Hassan Zubier’s family" (Insamling till förmån för Hassan Zubiers familj, in Swedish).

Höstman said that she has made contact with Zubier via Facebook.

"He is truly happy about this and we are keeping in touch. This will affect him and his family’s financial situation," she noted.

Two women were killed and eight others were wounded during the attack, which was carried out by an 18-year-old Moroccan man.

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