VANCOUVER — An 18-year-old Muslim woman who was allegedly attacked on a SkyTrain in Vancouver says the incident is a warning for all minorities to be mindful of their safety.
Noor Fadel said a man started swearing at her in heavily accented Arabic and also spoke another language before grabbing her by her hijab and pulling her head to his crotch on Monday night.
"He was saying to me in Arabic that he was going to kill me and kill all Muslims," she said. "I was shocked. I wasn't understanding why he was saying that to me."
No one on the train intervened but she said when the man slapped her face one passenger got up and pushed the man away. Other passengers on the train may not have acted because they were also in shock, she added.
Fadel hid behind the passenger and took three photos of the alleged attacker before getting off the train at the next stop, where police and paramedics responded, she said.
"I've experienced a lot of verbal assaults from people telling me to go back to my country but I haven't experienced anything to this extent."
Fadel said she and her three sisters were born in Vancouver after their parents immigrated from Iraq, but her experience taught her minorities can be targeted for the way they look.
"I just hope that people can take this event and be more aware that things do happen and the community and everyone can take this as a lesson to speak up and to support one another and to be kind to one another."
Fadel said police were "super, super supportive" but she has not been able to return to work since Monday night.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police say they arrested a suspect at the airport after tracking him on transit system video.
"We would like to thank and commend the gentleman who intervened in this incident and came to the aid of the woman," police said in a statement. "He put his own safety at risk and stopped what might have become an even more serious situation."
Police say Pierre Belzan, 46, of no fixed address, has been charged with one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm and one count of assault.