Muslim woman verbally attacked on Ottawa bus thanks driver for intervening
Published Tuesday, May 31, 2016 6:33PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 31, 2016 7:15PM EDT
An Ottawa bus driver is being hailed a hero after stepping in when he heard a Muslim woman being verbally attacked by a passenger.
Hailey De Jong boarded an OC Transpo bus on May 12, on her way to the Rideau Centre in Ottawa. According to De Jong, she’s used to people staring at her niqab, or face covering, since she started wearing one in October of 2015.
She has also become used to people hurling insults at her since she converted to Islam three years ago.
“People yell out their car window at you a lot,” said De Jong.
As soon as she sat down on the bus, a male passenger began loudly insulting her in front of other passengers. According to De Jong, he started off by telling other people that she could be a bank robber.
“Then he just resorted to yelling ‘terrorist’ and ‘freak’ and then yelled for me to assimilate,” De Jong said.
Other passengers on the bus started to tell the male passenger to stop but it wasn’t until the bus driver, Alain Charette, yelled back at the man did the insults cease.
“If you have a problem with her, you’ve got a problem with me. You’ve got to deal with me, stop harassing the woman,” Charette recalled yelling at the male passenger.
Charette has been driving a bus for 35 years and says he’s both seen and heard a lot and has learned how to deal with unruly passengers. He pulled the bus over the first chance he got and told the man to either leave or wait for security.
The man chose to leave.
“If you allow something like that to carry on, by not saying anything you become a part of it,” Charette said.
As De Jong got to her stop, she approached Charette to express her gratitude and asked him to take a selfie with her, which he gladly did.
According to Charette, his message is simple; if you’re not doing your part to support another human being, then what kind of human being are you?
With a report from CTV Ottawa