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Father of Jewish children abused on tube thanks Muslim woman who intervened

Victim of antisemitism on London Underground says he wants to meet Asma Shuweikh in person

Peter Stubley
Sunday 24 November 2019 19:00 GMT
London Tube passengers unite to challenge man hurling antisemitic abuse at Jewish family

A Jewish man whose family was subjected to antisemitic abuse on the London Underground has said he wants to meet the Muslim woman who intervened.

The father, who was travelling with his wife and children, issued a statement thanking Asma Shuweikh for confronting the man responsible.

He said that without her intervention and distraction, the abuse would have continued and “could have escalated to physical violence”.

The family were approached by the abuser as they travelled from Hendon to Covent Garden on Friday morning.

Footage of the incident – which was filmed by Chris Atkins and widely shared on Twitter – showed a man trying to read anti-Jewish Bible passages to two young boys in skullcaps.

However, the father, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that the mobile phone clip only captured part of their “15- to 20-minute ordeal”.

“He shouted at me that the Jews started the slave trade and threatened that I, my wife and children were going to be his slaves and suffer various other ailments,” the father added.

“He said the Jews were from the synagogue of Satan, and continued with vile antisemitic abuse which was very unsuitable for any child or adult to hear.

“I was confused. I was ready for the antisemitic comments after the Jewish question, but I was not prepared for the hail of antisemitic abuse which followed.

“The only thing I could think about was the safety of my children and the best thing to do at that time was to restrain myself and try to get my children to ignore the situation.”

The father told how he and his wife tried to remain calm while reassuring and distracting their children “so they would not sense how anxious we actually were”.

He said that he also repeatedly asked the man to “step back and to stop directing abuse to my children”.

The video captured an unidentified passenger trying to intervene only to be threatened with violence, at which point Ms Shuweikh confronted the abuser. She was hailed a “hero” online but later said she “wouldn’t hesitate to do it again”.

“We are extremely grateful for the Muslim lady wearing the headscarf, who we now know as Asma, who stepped in,” said the father.

“We are certain that without her intervention and distraction, he would have continued his abuse which could have escalated to physical violence.

“I would like to meet Asma in person to thank her.”

He said that the experience left his children “deeply worried and confused” and made him more vigilant while travelling.

“It is clear that antisemitism is still rife, it just happens that a small two minute snippet of this long episode was caught on camera,” he added.

“This Tube journey has left me with mixed feelings about society. On the one hand my wife, my children and I were subject to vile abuse in a full tube carriage, however I am grateful for those who stood up for me.”

The father has received support from the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Jewish neighbourhood watch group Shomrim North West London.

Stephen Silverman, CAA director of investigations, said the interventions of Ms Shuweikh and the unidentified passenger “serve as a timely reminder that British values of tolerance and respect are still alive and well”.

The British Transport Police have arrested a man on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.

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