This Australian Woman Stands Up For A Muslim Couple On A Train, But There Are Still Better Ways To Be An Ally — VIDEO
On a Sydney train Wednesday afternoon, Stacey Eden of Sydney, Australia, overheard a fellow commuter's Islamophobic rant in front of a Muslim couple. According to HotViralNews, Eden turned on her phone to record the tirade and her confrontation of the commuter to defend the couple. Eden said the women in red called the Muslim woman across from her an "ISIS supporter" and insulted their headscarf. At this point, Eden jumped in to defend the couple.
"She wears the hijab for herself, okay?" Eden said. "She wears it to because she wants to be modest with her body, not because of people like you who are going to sit there and disrespect her."
Here's the thing with this video: I'm all for allies. We need allies, and it's great that this woman decided to speak up, especially in a situation where it might not have been safe for the Muslim couple to defend themselves. Her heart and intentions were clearly in the right place. But the role of an ally is to walk beside, not in front; to speak with, and definitely not for. There are many reasons to wear a hijab, and modesty is just one of them. Just like the harmful comments, this defense was based on assumptions which is never a good thing.
Eden uploaded the video herself to her Facebook page after the confrontation, and her and the couple were able to find each other through social media. According to The Daily Telegraph, Hafeez Ahmed Bhatti, the man in the video, was grateful for Stacey stepping in. "Stacey thanks again for your support for us on that day," he said in a Facebook comment. "I generally believe that you and many other Australians do respect all religions."
The focus of this story has overwhelmingly been on Eden on her courage and her bravery. While that is not something to be downplayed, we need to keep in mind that this story came about as a result of what was likely a frustrating, terrifying, and ultimately unfair situation for a couple just trying to ride the train.
The moral of the story? Eden did a great thing, but there are always ways to improve. Hopefully videos like this don't just prompt conversations about how "heroic" a member of the privileged majority is when they choose to engage in as an ally to a marginalized or discriminated against person—hopefully, videos like this prompt constructive conversations about how to be an ally, since this is something most people are simply not taught. The bottom line? Always try to speak up, but definitely don't try to speak for.