May 26, 2015 – 4:35PM
A commuter was assaulted after he stood up for three Muslim women who were subject to a vile racial and bigoted attack on a packed Melbourne train.
Jason Cias, 36, was travelling home from work in the city on the Craigieburn-bound train on Friday, May 15, when he saw two tradesmen vilifying three women – one older and two who appeared to be in their 20s – who were wearing headscarves.
The train had pulled out of Melbourne Central station about 3.15pm when the unprovoked abuse began after one of the younger women sat next to the tradesmen.
An image taken by a passenger on the train. Photo: Supplied
“One of them made reference to her headscarf, saying ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that shit in Australia’,” Mr Cias said.
Mr Cias said the young woman tried to put the men in their place, asking them what their problem was, and it sparked a heated exchange.
He said the older of the women appeared to try to calm the situation in Arabic, which was met with yet another barb from the men.
“The comment was, ‘You shouldn’t be speaking that shit in Australia’,” Mr Cias said.
The women got off the train at North Melbourne and it was when one of the men called after them ‘I’ll f—ing smash ya’ that Mr Cias stepped in.
“I said to the guy, ‘Mate, they’re women’. The implication there was you don’t threaten people, particularly women,” he said.
Mr Cias said he was told to mind his own business before one of the men stood over him and punched him to his left cheek.
“Even though the guy stood up and was acting aggressively, I didn’t expect to get punched. After that I walked towards him and grabbed his collar and held him at arm’s length and told him I would be laying charges,” he said.
The men moved to another carriage when another commuter intervened and separated them. Mr Cias got off the train at Kensington with two witnesses, including Katie Parker, 28, who captured part of the assault on video and rang police.
“It was awful to witness that sort of violence in the middle of the day … Jason just said one sentence calmly and he [the attacker] was really aggressive at the drop of a hat for no logical reason,” Ms Parker said.
Police met Mr Cias and the witnesses near Kensington station, taking statements and copies of the video and images of the offenders.
Mr Cias, who suffered bruising and swelling but no long-term injuries, said he would change only one thing about what he did.
“I would have liked to have said something earlier. That’s probably my only thing … but I certainly wouldn’t change what I did, I don’t agree with that behaviour,” he said.
“Whether it’s Islamic women or whoever, it’s just not right they can abuse people like that. No one should be doing that to anyone regardless of race or gender or religious creed.”
Flemington police are investigating the racial abuse and the assault and urged anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au