London commuter shields Muslim girl from ‘racist abuse’ on the Tube
Ashley Powys, 22, got on the Victoria Line at Oxford Street station on his way home from work at around 8pm Monday.
He happened to sit opposite a young woman wearing a hijab. “She smiled at me as I sat down and nothing else was said,” he told the Telegraph.
Moments after the train departed, he noticed a man, who appeared to be in his 30s, staring at the girl.
The girl, who Powys described as looking “no older than 18,” looked away when she spotted the man looking at her.
The alleged offender eventually got closer to her and shouted: “F**king P*ki.”
“He was reeling off abuse, calling her things like ‘rag-head,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘scum,’ and saying that ‘her people’ murdered the victims of the Paris attacks this weekend,” Powys told the paper.
At this point, the Apple employee intervened and protected the girl until she reached her destination.
“I automatically stood up and had to physically push him away from her, as he was aggressively close and was clearly terrifying her.”
Everyone's messages of support today have been truly overwhelming. It just goes to show the impact we can make when we work together.— Ashley Powys (@AshleyPowys) November 17, 2015
Powys said the alleged offender turned his attention away from the girl and started calling him a “terrorist sympathizer.”
The young woman, whose name is believed to be Yara, had tears running down her face as the 22-year-old sought to reassure her.
“What happened in Paris this weekend was an atrocity. What happens every day in the Middle East is an atrocity. And the only way to move forward and to recover is in solidarity as one people who won’t be terrorized,” Powys said.
You're all incredible. Stunning. So damn proud of my city and my country right now with your messages of solidarity. #OnePeople— Ashley Powys (@AshleyPowys) November 17, 2015
The commuter said he was disappointed that no one else on the crowded train tried to stand up for the young woman.
“They sat in silence and allowed that abuse to happen. That’s the problem with our society. Silence is our biggest weakness. We need to start speaking up and defending each other.”
‘Religious hate crimes soar after Paris attacks’
The news comes as police in Scotland warn of a rise in religiously motivated hate crimes since the Paris attacks.
The force said it will “not tolerate” any form of hate crime.
“Police Scotland have investigated instances of crime since the events in Paris on Friday that have been motivated by religious hatred,” Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland Iain Livingstone said in a statement.
“These crimes have been both online and in public. Arrests have been made.
“Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of hate crime and I urge everyone across the country to continue working together to ensure that no one feels threatened or marginalized.”
Recent statistics from the London Metropolitan Police show that hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 70 percent in the past year.
Tell MAMA, an organization monitoring Islamophobia, claims that Muslim women are the primary targets.
A spokesperson for the charity said female victims often avoid contacting the police because they fear it could make matters worse.
In October, Prime Minister David Cameron said anti-Muslim hate crime will be treated as seriously as anti-Semitism.
“I want British Muslims to know we will back them to stand against those who spread hate and to counter the narrative which says Muslims do not feel British,” he said.