'He blamed Jews for slavery, threatened to enslave my family'

British Jew recalls anti-Semitic harassment on London Underground train, along with efforts to intervene on his behalf.

Sara Rubenstein ,

London Underground
London Underground

Following the arrest of a man in Birmingham, England on Saturday night for an anti-Semitic verbal harangue on an Orthodox Jewish family on the London Underground on Friday, Israel's Kan News reported on the father's statement to the police.

"On the morning of November 22, my wife and I sat on the tube," the father said. "A man got on and immediately asked me if I was a Jew. He yelled at me that the Jews started the slave trade and threatened that I, my wife and children are going to be his slaves and we'll suffer from various illnesses. He said that Jews are from the synagogue of Satan, and continued with his anti-Semitic abuse - things that are very difficult for adults to hear and even more so for children."

"I was confused - I was prepared for an anti-Semitic comment after I was asked if I was a Jew but I wasn't prepared for this anti-Semitic abuse. In the video, you see only a small part but the entire story lasted for around 20 minutes. The only thing I could think about was my children's safety and that the best thing to do was to ignore the situation. My wife and I tried to distract the children so they wouldn't realize how scared we were."

"We thank the Muslim women who wore a hijab with all our heart - we now know that her name is Asma - for the fact that she intervened. We're sure that without her interference and the distraction she provided he would have continued his abuse, which could have worsened into physical violence. I would be happy to meet with Asma and thank her."

"The ride on the Tube left me with mixed feelings toward the society I live in. On one hand, my wife, I and my children suffered from anti-Semitism but on the other hand, I appreciate whoever intervened for me."

Asma Shuweikh, who was called a hero for confronting the offensive man said that she got off the tube after two stops and had no idea that the encounter was even videoed, much less that it had gone viral until a friend texted her and told her that she had seen her on Twitter.

"To be honest I thought it is my duty as a mother, as a practicing Muslim, as a citizen of this country, to have to say something."

Shuweikh told BBC Radio 5Live that she created a Twitter account to see all the responses. “It was so heartwarming to see the responses and see what people were saying. I can’t take all the credit because a lot of other people were involved."

"All my friends and family have been so supportive. But they're also worried about my safety because I have children back home. But when you're put in that situation you don't really think about yourself. You just think, 'look this is the right thing to do. I need to say something'."

Commuter Chris Atkins, who took the video said: “The woman who intervened was Muslim, and she was incredibly brave. In this day and age, we are told how intolerant everyone is and all religions hate each other and there you had a Muslim woman sticking up for some Jewish children.”

“As soon as I stopped filming I switched seats with the boy. The abuser got off at Waterloo, shouting that King James was in fact black.”