A Muslim woman who confronted a man about his anti-Semitic tirade on a London subway train has said that she couldn’t “just sit back and watch” while he hurled abusive language at a Jewish family.
The incident was caught on video by London Underground passenger Chris Atkins, who shared it on Twitter on November 22. The video showed a woman, later identified as Asma Shuweikh, confronting a man who was reading aloud a verse from Christian scripture to a Jewish family that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic and claiming that they were masquerading as the “true” descendants of the ancient biblical Israelites.
In the video, the man could be heard loudly reading a verse from the New Testament to a man and a boy who were both wearing a kippah, the traditional Jewish skullcap. They were part of a commuting family that included three other people, according to the BBC.
The verse was chapter 3, verse 9 of the Book of Revelation, which reads: “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” The man pointed directly to the man and boys as he said the words, “synagogue of Satan.”
Another passenger could be seen walking up to the man who was reading, presumably to get him to stop, but the man with the Bible could be heard threatening to assault him—saying that he was no “Christian pastor” who considered himself above such violence.
Then Shuweikh, wearing a red hijab, could be seen speaking to the man, presumably to tell him that his conduct was inappropriate and discriminatory. While her words could not be discerned clearly from the footage, they appeared to frustrate the man with the Bible. He could be heard saying that the family were “imposters…trying to claim his heritage,” and then mentioned the slave trade.
The video, which had accrued over 40 thousand likes and 19 thousand retweets on Twitter by Sunday morning, Eastern Standard Time, attracted much attention from users who hailed Shuweikh as a “hero” for standing up in defense of the Jewish family.
“A Muslim lady going to the defence of a Jewish father and son gives me renewed hope for the future of this wonderful country of ours,” wrote user @warner_hb in a tweet that earned over ten thousand likes. “Let’s try and find out who she is so we can thank her for her wonderful courage and support.”
Eventually, Shuweikh came forward as the woman in the video.
“Being a mother of two, I know what it’s like to be in that situation and I would want someone to help if I was in that situation,” she said on BBC Radio. “When he started talking to the child I thought, ‘no, I have to say something’. As a mother of two it’s appalling, I can’t sit back and watch that happen.”
She further said that she believed it was her duty as an observant Muslim and as a citizen of the United Kingdom to speak up when confronted with injustice.
As of 11:30 EST on Sunday, a man who was linked to the incident reportedly has been arrested in Birmingham, according to the BBC.
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