21 Nov 2012

Melbourne bus racist abuse video puts Australian attitudes on trial

Police in the Australian city of Melbourne are investigating the racist abuse of a French-speaking woman travelling on a bus in which she was told by a man to "speak English or die". The verbal abuse, captured on video by another passenger, shows a second man threatening to cut the woman with a knife.

"I'll fucking boxcutter you right now, you bitch, if you talk to my missus like that," said the male passenger, who was pushing a baby buggy, during the footage, which sparked national discussion on the level of racism in Australia. To varying degrees all Australian states and territories have laws against racial vilification.

Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, has large migrant communities and the spread of the video is a setback for the image it cultivates of being Australia's most culturally sophisticated metropolitan centre. Media outlets described the incident as "shocking" and an ugly racist attack. One columnist described the perpetrators of the abuse as idiots who were being "caught on camera to their shame, and to our international embarrassment".

The Guardian