Asma Shuweikh stepped into action when she noticed a man berating a Jewish family. She believes everyone should get involved to stop the harassment of minority communities.
There is no doubt that Muslims are one of the most persecuted communities in the Western world. Despite this, hijabi Asma Shuweikh stepped in to help when she noticed a man shouting antisemitic abuse at a Jewish family on the Tube, the local subway, in London, United Kingdom. A hijabi is a woman who chooses to wear a hijab, a traditional Muslim head covering. The incident took place on a Northern line train on Friday last week in the afternoon at about 12pm, Sky News reports. Had she not stepped in, she believes the situation could have escalated rather quickly.
In a video filmed by fellow passenger Chris Atkins, a man can be seen aggressively throwing insults at a family—a father, mother, their son, believed to be five or six years old, and several other young children. The man, who Shuweikh described as "very tall and overpowering," is seen reading Bible passages, including a quote about "the synagogue of Satan." Later on in his rant, the man accused Jews of being "impostors" who began the cruel slave trade. Though the video only displays about two minutes of the man's rant, he went on for much longer, according to Shuweikh.
As per Shuweikh, the man got onto the Tube at Golders Green station and originally sat down before spotting the Jewish family. Once he did, he sprinted towards them to begin his rant. Early on, another male passenger attempted to stop the man, sadly to no avail. The man violently responded, "Get out of my face. I will smack you right in your nose." With this in mind, Shuweikh explained in an interview with Sky News, "With him being quite aggressive to the other passenger, I thought 'I can't just come to him and tell him what you're doing [is wrong] because he's going to be quite violent. I was just assessing the situation. And 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."
Therefore, she attempted to reason with him. "As a man of the book, I said 'If you believe in the Quran, you should give everyone the freedom to believe what they want to believe,'" she recounted. "'You shouldn't stop and oppress people for what they believe in.'" That was when he diverted his attention towards her, going up to her face and starting to shout at her. The man accused Shuweikh of being a part of 9/11 and claimed that as a Muslim woman she "shouldn't be wearing trousers." But Shuweikh was having absolutely none of his hatred and bigotry.
"I told him he needed to calm down, and take a step back and see where he is," she said. "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." Luckily, she was able to successfully diffuse the situation and calm the man down. However, she wasn't so sure about getting involved at first. Shuweikh shared, "I just kept saying, 'Shall I say something?' But London's my city, I can't allow this to happen. My husband keeps warning me to be careful, especially with all the racial attacks towards Muslim people, but I'm that type of person — if I see something wrong, I have to say something. I can't sit there and say nothing." Part of her conviction comes from experiencing harassment herself, as a Muslim woman. "I have a lot of bad memories growing up. Before, if someone was racially abusing you, no one would do anything. But now people have a platform to talk. Britain as a whole has come so far." Nonetheless, she does not want to be called "special" or "brave." She believes everyone should stand up for those around them without hesitation. "It doesn't matter who it is," Shuweikh affirmed. "If someone's being abused, then someone needs to step in. I think we need to all step in to help."