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Vancouver family speaks out after hate crime on Canada Line

“The worst thing you can do is stay silent,” said Abdul Fadel, brother of Noor Fadel, who was the target of what transit police call a hate crime.

People who want to help someone being assaulted can push the yellow strip that runs along the SkyTrain walls, or text Transit Police directly at 87-77-77.

Jennifer Gauthier / Metro Order this photo

People who want to help someone being assaulted can push the yellow strip that runs along the SkyTrain walls, or text Transit Police directly at 87-77-77.

A young woman’s family is speaking out after she was assaulted on the Canada Line while all but one fellow passenger stood by and watched.

“The worst thing you can do is stay silent,” said Abdul Fadel, brother of Noor Fadel, who was the target of what transit police call a hate crime on a Canada Line train Monday night.

The suspect, who has been charged, allegedly yelled obscenities at Noor, told her to go back to her country, said he would kill all Muslims, and tried to pull her hijab off. Then, he allegedly slapped her across the face and that’s when another passenger on the train put himself between the suspect and Noor.

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Noor, 18, is Canadian and so is her entire family, who have lived in Vancouver almost all their lives, said Abdul. The incident shocked their whole family but they are now trying to raise awareness that these kinds of hate crimes do happen, and that people can do something about it.

“We have been getting a lot of feedback from random strangers, family friends, of similar incidents happening all the time. But no one speaks about it, no one raises their voice,” said Abdul.

But while recent events in the United States and around the world have strained some relationships, they have made him grateful Vancouver is still a welcoming place.

"We have a very strong community in Vancouver where everyone is accepted, the LGBT, trans community, all the ethnical groups," he said.

Abdul, a former judo athlete who teaches self-defence classes in Chinatown's Eastside Boxing Club, says he doesn’t blame the people who were with Noor on the train for not intervening. But he hopes the incident will make people realize they can help in those kinds of situations without getting physically involved.

“I think everyone – everyone – needs to say something in these kinds of scenarios. Even if you yell out stop, or something very minor, it can de-escalate a whole situation,” said the 24-year-old.

“If three or four people speak up, that makes a huge difference and sometimes that’s all it takes. It just takes someone to speak up.”

For those who feel safe enough to step in, Abdul advises people to avoid confronting the person physically.

“Don’t physically escalate the situation and try to swing at the person or try to fight them in anyway. You never know, that person may be armed or have a weapon,” he said.

Following the Canada Line incident, transit police have been quick to say they do not expect anyone to put themselves at physical risk to help another. But people who want to help discreetly can push the yellow strip that runs along the walls of every SkyTrain car, or text Transit Police directly at 87-77-77.

On Monday night, when Noor was attacked, no one did either of those things, according to Anne Drennan, spokesperson for transit police. Noor herself called 9-1-1 after the incident.

“It is a bit surprising," said Drennan.

"Surely there was someone in that train car who could have reached up very discreetly and touched the yellow strip.”

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