The story around the possible hate crime attack on a Q train the other night seems to be made for the season. Not only does it come while subway violence is a big topic, it also involves a group of Jewish subway riders being called "dirty Jews" and "Jew bitches" and attacked by people who cried, "Happy Hanukkah, that's when the Jews killed Jesus." And here's the kicker: The only person who stepped in to stop the beating was a Muslim rider! One of the victims, Walter Adler, said, "A random Muslim guy jumped in and helped a Jewish guy on Hanukkah - that's a miracle."
Adler and his girlfriend, Maria Parsheva, students at Hunter and Baruch respectively, had been celebrating Hanukkah with friends Angelica Krischanovich and Nick Rosenbaum. They spoke to the Daily News:
On the train, they said [Joseph] Jirovec, [Kimberly] Babajko and their friends loudly yelled "Merry Christmas" - and became infuriated when Krischanvich responded, "Happy Chanukah."
"[One woman said,] 'You can't say that, we are Catholic,'" said Krischanvich, a Hunter College student who is not Jewish. "That's when two guys stood up and showed us their Jesus tattoos," she said. "They started yelling at us and telling us we have no savior."
"I started to yell back when one of them spat in my face," Krischanvich said. "I didn't let it bother me, and I told him, 'Jesus turned the other cheek,' and that is when the fight started."
Adler pulled the emergency brake and the police arrested six people for assault and four for unlawful assembly. Adler praised Hassan Askari, a Berkley College student who also works at an East Village restaurant, for trying to help stop the attack. Adler, who sports a black eye and cuts, said, "He's basically a hero. Hassan jumped in to help us....I'm bleeding all over the place, there's lots of people, they're fighting with Hassan still, and I'm like, why isn't anyone else doing anything?"
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, but Jirovec, the son of a city firefighter fighting in Iraq, says the fight was not a hate crime, claiming two of his friends are Jewish.
Still, the Daily News found Facebook and Myspace photos showing Jirovec and Babajko appearing to "revel in recklessness" and "making a mockery of violence."
Jirovec did plead guilty to "attempted robbery in the third degree as a hate crime" for beating and robbing a black teen in Brooklyn last year. Jirovec told the Post, "I'm trying to stay out of trouble. When I get out, I want to go into the military."
The Post has video of Adler discussing the attack. And Askari is modest about what he did, saying he got involved because the attackers were targeting the women, too. Askari, who also has a black eye, who said he was grabbed and beaten, puzzled, "I don't understand" why the others were attacked. "They were just being nice."