A Unite bus driver has received widespread praise for her calm and courageous reaction to being harassed by far-right extremists who were blocking her vehicle.
Supporters of the far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson, taking part in a so-called Football Lads Alliance (FLA) rally in London, stood in front of the bus as it made its way around Trafalgar Square on Sunday (July 14) and proceeded to verbally abuse the female driver, who was wearing a hijab.
Despite being harassed for over 30 minutes, the seemingly non-plussed driver simply smiled and eye-rolled her way through the ordeal and carried on with her job – winning hearts across the country after pictures of the incident appeared in the media.
Unite equalities rep and bus driver Tan Rashid, who has himself been the subject of racist attacks, said her reaction to the thugs was “brilliant”.
Rashid said, “It was a really brave thing to do, especially in front of all those people. It must have been really intimidating and scary, but she just stayed calm, smiled and kept her composure. I think the way she handled the situation was brilliant.
“Unfortunately, these kinds of incidents are a daily occurrence now. A classic example: Just the other day somebody drove past my bus and started shouting racist words at me when they saw I was Asian. As a union we need to educate against racism and support members who suffer this kind of abuse.”
The Unite member also won admiration from social media users.
Twitter user Yazz Reed commented “I love the calm serenity of the driver. How brave of her”, while @CurlewSW said, “Wonderful restraint. The temptation to at least flick on the windscreen washer must have been immense.”
@Lord_Sedgepig tweeted, “Driving a bus around London is a tough job under normal circumstances. But under these circumstances? What a fantastic response. Everyone who knows her must be so proud.”
@capn_geekilee said, “Hey @TfL, this lady deserves a raise and a commendation and a public statement supporting her. Look at that abuse. And look at her reaction. She’s fantastic.”
Unite national officer for equalities Harish Patel praised the driver’s “remarkable firmness and resolution while being confronted by these despicable thugs”.
“But nobody should have to endure that sort of behaviour whilst executing their duties in employment,” Patel added.
“The equality act needs to be amended to better take into account third party bullying, harassment and racism and it also be made easier to prosecute people who behave in such a manner to public servants who are just doing their duty.”
Pic of Unite London and Eastern members protesting against the FLA rally