Muslim woman defends Jewish family from 'racially aggravated' harassment on subway

A woman is being heralded for her "special" and "brave" actions after she stepped in to defend a Jewish family from anti-Semitic harassment.

Asma Shuweikh was riding the London Underground on Friday afternoon when she heard another passenger aggressively shouting at a man and his young son, Sky News reported.

The apparently irate passenger read passages aloud from the Christian bible — including one about the "synagogue of Satan" — and directed comments toward the father and son, both of whom were wearing yarmulkes, the traditional, brimless caps worn by some Jewish men.

"Just ignore him," the father says to his son, according to a video of the incident posted to Twitter by a user named Chris Atkins.

The footage, which has now been viewed more than 5.5 million times, later shows the passenger tell another man he will "smack [him] right in the nose," before Shuweikh, who was wearing a red hijab, intervenes. 

The young woman can be seen stepping into the camera frame and confronting the man. 

"There's children here," Shuweikh tells the man.

"Listen," the man says. "These people are imposters — trying to claim our heritage."

Shuweikh later told Sky News that the man told the family they "weren't real Jews," in addition to accusing Jewish people of starting the slave trade. She added that she attempted to use her own Muslim faith to appeal to him.

"I said, 'If you believe in the Quran, you should give everyone the freedom to believe what they want to believe,"  Shuweikh told Sky News. "You shouldn't stop and oppress people for what they believe in."

She said the man then turned his apparent anger toward her. Video from the incident shows him start to argue with Shuweikh. She said the man shouting at her, accusing her of being part of 9/11 and telling her that, as a Muslim, she "shouldn't be wearing trousers."

Chris Atkins/Twitter

"I told him he needed to calm down and take a step back and see where he is," Shuweikh told Sky News "I did start to panic when he came up into my face, but I managed to keep a calmness and keep trying to defuse the situation."

Shuweikh said she had no clue she was being filmed, adding that she simply took a stand because she'd hope to receive similar help if she were being harassed.

"If it had been me, I would have liked someone to stand up for me," she told Sky News.

The video does not show what happened to the passenger making the anti-Semitic remarks, but the British Transport Police reported that he was arrested the following day. Identified only as a 35-year-old male, he was charged with a "racially aggravated" public order offense related to the incident on the train.

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