A highly diverse altercation occurred on a London subway after a Jewish man and his son sat down, both wearing yarmulkes, which apparently prompted a man to run up to them with a Bible and tell them how terrible they are for being Jewish. It took a woman in a hijab to stand up for them.
Filmmaker Chris Atkins captured video of part of the incident and asked for help to identify the Bible-toting man, who was arrested by the British Transport police “on suspicion of a racially aggravated section 5 public order offence” two days later.
Around noon I witnessed appalling anti Semitic abuse towards this Jewish Family on the northern line. Fair play to other passengers who stood up to him. If you recognise the guy please report to @metpoliceuk pic.twitter.com/YxzwAnDqTJ— Chris Atkins (@scatatkins) November 22, 2019
In the video, the man can be seen reading Bible passages to father and son, including something about “the synagogue of Satan.” The Jewish father speaks quietly to his clearly uncomfortable kid while this goes on until an off-screen individual intervenes. The Christian man tells them to “back off” and similar phrases with stronger language, at which point the woman in the hijab, Asma Shuweikh, starts to engage the Bible reader, effectively distracting him from harassing the Jewish man and child.
“I thought, if I reason with him and talk to him and pretend that I’m sympathetic with what he’s saying, maybe I can defuse the problem because he was actually talking to a little boy,” Shuwikh told Sky News.
The woman has since been identified as mother-of-two Asma Shuweikh https://t.co/MKDGvovAIv— Metro (@MetroUK) November 24, 2019
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much reasoning to be had.
“Listen, these people are imposters, trying to claim our heritage,” the man can be heard saying to her in the video.
Shuwikh said that the Christian man became even more aggressive after the video stopped, but it does not seem like anyone was physically hurt. And even if she didn’t change his mind, Shuwikh stands as an inspiration to future bystanders who might be afraid to stand up to antisemitic or otherwise bigoted subway passengers.
“If it had been me I would have liked someone to stand up for me,” she said.
Now, she is something of a hero to Jewish Twitter and beyond.
#AsmaShuweikh I love you. Jewish communities around the world will always have your back and so should all others. If you ever need anything, just ask... You are a hero and an example to society at large. What a legend!!! https://t.co/3iGiFJtkim— David Aaron (@DavidMAaron) November 24, 2019
If it's true that evil flourishes when good people do nothing, it is equally true that the common decency of ordinary people has the power to defeat hate. Asma Shuweikh, you are a star 👏👏 https://t.co/B70Wjps8Oz— Dave Rich (@daverich1) November 24, 2019
Asma Shuweikh, the Muslim woman who intervened to defend this Jewish family from #antiSemitic abuse in London, is a hero.— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 24, 2019
Thank you for you bravery, your ally-ship and for showing the power ordinary people have every day in defeating hate. https://t.co/8eQrBlrKyj
I hate that there was a threatening Christian fundamentalist on the tube shouting anti-Semitic abuse at a kid wearing a kippah. But I love that Asma Shuweikh, a hijabi Muslim woman, intervened to support the child & his family. You rock, Ms Shuweikh. https://t.co/ZQGuxiOMGd— Bruce Lawson, rebranding as BRUCE LAWSON (@brucel) November 24, 2019
We want to thank the wonderful Asma Shuweikh & the other passengers who challenged this man’s antisemitic rant at a young family on the London Underground. She has shown that we have far more in common than anything that divides us. Thank you, Asma. https://t.co/6jxLOLkqly— Stoke Newington Shul (@StokeyShul) November 24, 2019
Was scrolling thru phone due to being unavoidably stuck somewhere and found my hero of the day: Asma Shuweikh, a hijabi Muslim who at great risk to her own safety, talked down a dangerous man ranting antiSemitic abuse at a father and two small boys on Tube today. Maithu, Asma 👊— Susan Lanigan (@susanl_author) November 23, 2019
Asma Shuweikh showed what it means to love others by standing in the gap when it was clear the assailant could become physically violent at any moment. The man had a large bookbag he constantly reached for. She still didn't hesitate to act.— לוֹחְמָנִי (@alders_ledge) November 24, 2019
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear hijabs.