UK

Commuter Ashley Powys Defends Muslim Woman Being Abused On London Tube After Paris Attacks

18/11/2015 14:29 GMT | Updated 18/11/2015 14:59 GMT
Facebook

A London commuter has been hailed a hero after leaping to the defence of a Muslim woman who was being abused on the underground in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Ashley Powys, 22, witnessed the scenes whilst on the Victoria line on Monday and felt compelled to write about it on his Facebook page.

(My original post was removed by Facebook, so I'm reposting it, as I believe it was removed in error.)Something just...

Posted by Ashley Powys on Tuesday, November 17, 2015

His actions drew wide praise. One person wrote: "You are truly a total inspiration mate!

"Especially at the time that the entire western society are pounded by the terrorist threats after the terrorist attack, your bravery showed us the spirit of fighting prejudice&racism!

"I wish our world could have more courageous people like you!"

The terror attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State killed 129 people and injured many more. The death toll would have been even higher if the terrorists had succeeded in their plan to get into the Stade de France where the French national team were playing Germany.

Attacks took place at a number of locations round the capital, the deadliest being at the Bataclan theatre where 89 people were killed and 99 others critically injured.

SEE ALSO:

Here's the post if you can't see the Facebook embed above.

(My original post was removed by Facebook, so I'm reposting it, as I believe it was removed in error.)

Something just happened on my tube journey home that I have to share. I got on the train as normal and sat opposite a young girl wearing a hijab. She smiled at me as I sat down, and nothing else was said. Just behind me, another guy got on the train and stood at the connecting door of the tube and began to stare at this girl. After she looked at him and looked away, he went nearer to her and said, "F**king p*ki", quite loudly.

Obviously, that immediately got my attention.

He then got closer to her, and 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.

Without thinking, I automatically stood up and had to physically push him away from her, as he was aggressively close and was clearly terrifying her. He then luckily turned his attention onto me, calling me a "terrorist sympathiser", among other things.

I sat down next to this girl, who at this point had tears in her eyes, and I asked her what her name was. She told me it was Yara. The man continued to shout abuse at her while I distracted her asking about her day, and other smalltalk topics, all the while making sure I was a barrier between her and this guy, so he didn't have direct access to harm her

We got to my stop and I asked her if she'd like me to stay on until her stop. When I asked, tears started running down her face because of what she called "my tremendous kindness and bravery". I don't think that's true. I just saw someone in need, and it was my human nature to do what I could.

At her stop, I escorted her off the train and up the escalator to where her friends were meeting her. I asked her if she receives that sort of abuse often, and to my shock she said she does. I gave her a hug goodbye, and told her in confidence that there are many more people like me, and she should never have to feel afraid in her own country. And this *is* her country, and her city.

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 terrorised.

And that's what shocked me most about my journey. Is that not one other person on that crowded train stood up for Yara. 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.

The terrorists in Paris attacked bars, restaurants, a stadium, and a concert hall. Places that by nature bring us closer together and unite us by our common connections. And that's what these cowards don't want. They want us to fight amongst ourselves. If we fight each other, we do half the job for them.

I love living in London because of the diversity of character and culture. Every day in my job I learn something new about people. But when we twist that diversity as a "threat" or an "invasion" we're embarrassing ourselves and diminishing and insulting the cultures of others.

People like Yara don't deserve abuse for the clothes they wear, the colour of their skin, or the faith they follow. Personally, in the stage of history we're living in, I think it's incredible for people like her to showcase their beliefs, despite the onslaught. Yara is much braver that I am. And she, and people like her, inspire me to stand up for what *I* believe in. And that's an equal, kind, and understanding society despite religious and cultural differences.

After all, we're strongest when we're united.

I want us to send a message to Islamic State, and any other group who inspire fear and hatred. I want us to send the message that what they destroy, we'll rebuild together. What lives they take, we'll remember together. And what people they target, we'll protect together.

Our best resource is each other. And we should be able to rely on that.

Please take care of each other. Both friends and strangers. You never know when you might need someone to do the same in return.