Anti-Muslim train attack leaves Canadians wondering: why did just one man help?

When a man allegedly assaulted Noor Fadel, 18, on a busy train, most passengers remained silent – raising concern over the ‘bystander effect’

Noor Fadel called Jake Taylor, left, her ‘hero’.
Noor Fadel called Jake Taylor, left, her ‘hero’. Photograph: Courtesy Noor Fadel

After a 46-year-old man was charged with assaulting a Muslim teenager on a busy commuter train in Vancouver, Canadians are asking why just one person stepped in to help her.

Noor Fadel, 18, was speaking to a friend on the phone as she headed home from work on Monday. “All of a sudden you just hear some dude start saying these words,” Fadel told CKNW 980. “I wasn’t paying attention to him until he actually got up. He had a very aggressive look on his face.”

The man – whom she described as white – began swearing at her in a mix of Arabic and another language. “And then he called me a slut and said all those kinds of words,” said Fadel, who wears a hijab. “And he told me that he’s going to kill me and kill all Muslims.”

Fadel, who was born in Canada to parents from Iraq, said she regularly fended off comments from people telling her to go back to her country but she was stunned by his behaviour.

The man then tried to grab her and force her head on to his crotch, she said. “And I looked at the passengers,” she said. “And everyone saw that he did it. But they were all just sitting. No one got up, no one said a word.”


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