A woman was “brutally” punched on a London Overground train after her attacker heard her speaking Spanish – the second time this year someone has been assaulted on the city’s transport system for using the European language.
Commuters in east London were shocked when a man violently confronted a woman talking on her mobile phone between Dalston Kingsland and Canonbury earlier this week.
“He was shouting at her, ‘You need to speak in English, you’re in f***ing England. You shouldn’t speak other languages’,” Enrik Del Sol, 35, told the Evening Standard. “The lady was in so much shock she couldn’t seem to reply to him in English so she was just replying in Spanish. Then he came up and punched her in the face.”
He added: “Someone pressed the emergency stop. But the attacker just walked off, nobody tried to stop him.”
A 56-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated actual bodily harm (ABH), according to the British Transport Police.
Another witness named Andreas told the Hackney Gazette that the man “brutally punched her in the face” before he got off the carriage.
“The woman was bleeding and I gave her some tissues,” he said.
In April, a 24-year-old woman was attacked on the London Underground for speaking Spanish.
Two women set upon the victim on the Central line, pulling her hair and telling her she should be speaking English in England. The woman suffered injuries to her face and scalp.
London commuters reacted with horror to the latest racist attack.
Dutch comedian Eline Van Der Velden tweeted: “I’ve seen this type of thing as a problem ever since I moved to the UK. It’s normal here to make fun of accents and other languages. I see it as fear of the unknown.”
Others blamed rising xenophobia in the wake of the Brexit vote. “I wonder if this thug also thinks Brits should be thumped for speaking English in Spain,” said Mike Galsworthy, founder of the Scientists for European Union campaign group.
Anyone who witnessed the incident on the London Overground train can contact British Transport Police by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 495 of 23 October.