Noor and Jake. (Hadani Ditmars)

On the evening of Dec. 4, 18-year-old Noor Fadel—a Muslim teen born in B.C. whose family moved to Canada from Iraq—was allegedly attacked by a man on a Vancouver SkyTrain who screamed obscenities and threats, slapped her face, and attempted sexual assault.
Unlike a similar recent incident in Calgary, where customers at a supermarket intervened to protect a cashier who being assailed by racist insults, onlookers on that SkyTrain did nothing—that is, except for 21-year-old Jake Taylor, who reportedly stepped in to protect Fadel until she reached safety.
Pierre Belzan, of no fixed address, has since been arrested and charged with assault and threatening to cause death or bodily harm. Transit Police have also recommended a charge of sexual assault.
On Dec. 6, Fadel and Taylor spoke to Maclean’s about what they saw, what responsibility the public should have in stepping in when they witness such incidents, and whether they’re surprised that this could happen here …