CAIRO – A man in Australia has been assaulted and punched in the face after standing up for three Muslim women who were the target of racial and bigoted attack on a train in Melbourne.
“One of them made reference to her headscarf, saying ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that shit in Australia’,” Jason Cias, 36, was travelling home from work in the city on the Craigieburn-bound train told The Age.
The hateful comment was directed at three Muslim women who were vilified by two tradesmen for wearing a headscarf.
As the train took off from Melbourne station, one of the three women sat next to the tradesmen.
As the young woman asked the man what was the problem in a heated debate, one of the women tried to calm the situation in Arabic, only to be met with yet another barb from the men.
“The comment was, ‘You shouldn’t be speaking that shit in Australia’,” Cias said.
The women got off the train at North Melbourne and it was when one of the men called after them ‘I’ll f—ing smash ya’ that Cias stepped in.
“I said to the guy, ‘Mate, they’re women’. The implication there was you don’t threaten people, particularly women,” he said.
The men told Cias to mind his own business before one of the men stood over him and punched him to his left cheek.
“Even though the guy stood up and was acting aggressively, I didn’t expect to get punched. After that I walked towards him and grabbed his collar and held him at arm’s length and told him I would be laying charges,” he said.
Cias got off the train at Kensington with two witnesses, including Katie Parker, 28, who captured part of the assault on video and rang police.
“It was awful to witness that sort of violence in the middle of the day … Jason just said one sentence calmly and he [the attacker] was really aggressive at the drop of a hat for no logical reason,” Parker said.
Suffering bruising and swelling, Cias said he would not regret his interference to protect the helpless women.
“I would have liked to have said something earlier. That’s probably my only thing … but I certainly wouldn’t change what I did, I don’t agree with that behavior,” he said.
“Whether it’s Islamic women or whoever, it’s just not right they can abuse people like that. No one should be doing that to anyone regardless of race or gender or religious creed.”
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.
A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.