One Woman's Stand Against An Islamophobic Bus Passenger Deserves a Standing Ovation

AP

A Muslim woman in Australia sat down on a bus in Sydney only to be greeted with a heartfelt welcome from a fellow passenger: "Your kids behead people in Syria. ... Read the newspapers, 148 people, Christians murdered in Kenya. They're killing each other in Syria."

But thanks to Stacey Eden, another passenger on the bus who witnessed the verbal assault, filmed it, and uploaded it to YouTube, the bigoted passenger did not get off the hook. Eden mercilessly shot her down in defense of the Muslim woman:

Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

Bravo. The harasser hurls a string of absurd accusations at the Muslim woman, who is sitting with her husband and young child in a stroller. "Why do you wear [the hijab]," she says, "for a man who marries a 6-year-old girl?"

Eden's response:

Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

The footage, which quickly went viral after being posted on Thursday, lasts 48 seconds. In it, Eden does not back down in squandering the Islamophobic passenger. The woman's husband Hafeez Ahmed Bhatt, posted the video on Facebook declaring, "God bless Stacey Eden" for stepping into the fray, ABC News (Australia) reports.

Source: YouTube

The bigger problem: It's encouraging to see people standing up against racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic harassment like this, but the broader issue behind it persists with troubling frequency.

The tendency to paint Muslims based on stereotypes, or the actions of a small minority, is not new. One prominent recent example came in January, when Rupert Murdoch claimed all Muslims "must be held responsible" for the violence committed by small pockets of extremists, referring to the fatal attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's Paris headquarters that month.

Of course, the irony is that Christians and white people are rarely — if ever — asked to take responsibility and apologize if one or two of theirs commits an act of mass atrocity.

Not to mention that Muslim religious garb, hijab included, already faces a dramatic amount of policing and restriction throughout the Western world, especially in Europe. Bans on publicly wearing burqas, hijab, niqab and other veils and body coverings related to Islam are legally banned or restricted in France, Belgium and some parts of Russia, Spain and Italy, among others. The Australian state of New South Wales passed a law in 2012 enabling authorities to "look under religious face coverings" as they see fit, according to the World Post.

In the midst of such suspicion and hostility, it's refreshing to see people — Muslim or otherwise — standing up for each other's right to religious expression. Eden's example is one we should all follow, no matter who we are, where we are or how uncomfortable intervening on behalf of a stranger might make us.