On the Town Hall to Sydney Airport service


The SMH tells us what Hafeez Ahmed Bhatti says about how Stacey Eden acted on that train. Spoiler: he doesn’t call her a white savior.

A man at the receiving end of an anti-Islamic tirade on a Sydney train has thanked the woman who stood up for his family and is meeting police on Friday to report the incident.

Hafeez Ahmed Bhatti, his wife and their four-month-old son were catching the train to Sydney Airport on Wednesday afternoon, after a one-day visit from Brisbane, when they were subjected to a torrent of abuse from a woman sitting opposite them.

Fellow passenger Stacey Eden was hailed a ‘legend’ for pulling out her camera phone and standing up to the woman after witnessing “a good 10 minutes” of abuse.

“Legend” is a silly word. I can discount some of Ashkitha Nagesh’s hostility toward Eden on the grounds that “legend” is a silly word applied to what she did on that train. She did the right thing, in my view, even if she didn’t word it perfectly throughout, but it was far from being such a heroic thing that it needs to be called legendary. [Update: see comments for why I was wrong about that.]

Mr Bhatti, an accountant from Pakistan, has revealed further details of what happened before Ms Eden started filming, saying the abusive passenger first touched his wife on her head and asked why she was wearing a hijab in such warm weather.

“I was [a] little shocked, she touched my wife’s head like she was blessing [her],” he said. “And then she started her ignorant comments.”

Oh, man – I’d be way more than a little shocked at that. You don’t touch people! And certainly not on the head!

The woman, wearing a red top and red floral pants, then proceeded to tell the couple that all Muslims should leave Australia and asked why they follow someone who married a six year-old child.

Ms Eden’s footage captured the woman asking Ms Bhatti’s wife: “Why do you wear it [a hijab] for a man that marries a six year-old girl?”

She rants about beheadings and the Martin Place siege while Ms Eden tells her it has nothing to do with the lady, who is sitting quietly.

Ms Eden’s smackdown ends with her angrily telling the woman: “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything, it’s simple.”

It is, it’s very simple. You don’t berate people on trains or in shops or at the bus stop. You leave people alone unless they are…you know…verbally abusing someone.

Mariam Veiszadeh, founder of the Islamophobia Register Australia, said such incidents had become more common after the Reclaim Australia rallies earlier this month.

“Is it any surprise that such sentiments are being expressed by people out in public given the Reclaim Australia movement and the rampant Islamophobia which ensued, and the woeful silence of our political leaders, which has created an environment where Islamophobia can flourish?” she said.

“It’s about time that authorities and our government acknowledged that Islamophobia is a problem.”

Bigotry against Muslims, is what it is, and what the problem is.

Meanwhile though, Ashkitha Nagesh is getting dogpiled on Twitter, and that’s no good either.

Comments

  1. ramirofernandez says

    “Legend” is a silly word. I can discount some of Ashkitha Nagesh’s hostility toward Eden on the grounds that “legend” is a silly word applied to what she did on that train. She did the right thing, in my view, even if she didn’t word it perfectly throughout, but it was far from being such a heroic thing that it needs to be called legendary.

    In Australia, “legend” is used differently and much more casually. You might tell someone “you’re a bloody legend” for kicking a winning goal or for bringing you a beer just as you are feeling thirsty (to play on the Aussie stereotype a bit more)

    Long story short, in the cultural context that this takes place in Australia, there’s nothing silly about using the word “legend” here, it’s an appropriate word to use.

  2. ramirofernandez says

    Most people get caught up on silly stereotypical Australian slang that no one actually uses (“chuck another shrimp on the barbie, mate!” ugh…), and don’t realise we generally actually speak much the same English as you Yanks and Brits, but with some subtle differences :)

  3. Emily Vicendese says

    ” . . . such incidents had become more common after the Reclaim Australia rallies earlier this month.”

    I would like to see the figures. I am curious about whether a statistically significant correlation could be identified. I’m not being dubious, it sounds intuitively plausible to me – it’s just that people generally say it’s difficult, nigh on impossible, to demonstrate a casual relationship between particular speech acts and other social consequences. You’d have a much better argument for the harmfulness of certain speech acts if you could show that.

  4. says

    Meanwhile though, Ashkitha Nagesh is getting dogpiled on Twitter, and that’s no good either.

    I don’t know if you’ve read Jon Ronson’s new book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. I have some disagreements with it, but on balance it’s probably worthwhile.

  5. Ysanne says

    #7, anecdotal, but:
    Here in Brisbane, on the week-end of our local Reclaim Australia event, one of my office’s clients got into a fist fight on the street — in order to protect a young Indian man who was being chased by an Aussie who was trying to beat him up for being brown. At about 8 pm, just next to a popular bar-and-restaurant precinct in the city centre.
    This kind of thing — i.e. chasing someone down a street while yelling racist expletives, then physically attacking the person standing up for that someone — has definitely not been the statistical norm for the last few years. (Which may be why the racist guy turned to be a fairly poor fighter. Whereas our client had some years of boxing experience from when he was younger, so the episode ended reasonably well for him and the Indian dude.)

  6. johnthedrunkard says

    Both the bus harassment incident and #9 have broad hints of public drunkenness. Another Aussie tradition?

    Mohammed and Aisha, the Martin Place siege, beheadings…well they are all real things. But how can they justify bullying a stranger who’s attitudes and actions are unknown to you?

    And why pester the woman in the scarf? That would be like lecturing a Georgia chain gang about racism because THEY were wearing stripes.

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