Two American men who were killed while attempting to defend two Muslim females from a white supremacist have been hailed as heroes by Muslims and non-Muslims across the world.
Taliesin Namkai-Meche, aged-23, and Ricky John Best, aged-53, were stabbed to death on a train in the north-western city of Portland, after intervening against a man who launched into an Islamophobic tirade against two women passengers.
Police say the attack happened when a man began shouting abuse at the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
The family of 23-year-old economics graduate Namkai-Meche said the senseless act “brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common”, Buzzfeed reported.
“He was resolute in his conduct and respect of all people. In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward.”
Best was a city employee, army veteran, and father of four who was heading home to his children when the attack took place.
Meanwhile, a third victim was said to be a 21-year-old who was harmed in the attack but is expected to survive.
Friends of Micah David-Cole Fletcher said although they were shocked to hear of his death, they were not surprised to learn he had stood up to defend the two passengers.
“If there’s a march or protest happening, he’s the one calling me to see where I’m at,” Mandela Cordeta told Buzzfeed. “He’s always showing up.”
“He’s just against injustice, that’s his personality,” Cordeta added.
The international community has come together to praise and thank the two men and survivor Fletcher, who sacrificed themselves in their attempt to stop the abuse.
Nearly $200,000 has already been raised to support the family of the victims, in a fundraising campaign launched by Portland’s Muslim community.
“We wish to respond to hate with love, to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action,” the fundraiser says.
“No amount of money will bring back the victims, but we do hope to lessen their family’s burdens in some way and also show our heartfelt appreciation for their heroic acts against Islamophobia.”
Police named the suspect as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland.
Christian was known to adhere to white supremacist views and was regularly present at extremist marches where he would performed Nazi salutes.
The suspect also used social media platforms to spout vile Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist views.
The women left the scene before police were able to speak to them, Sgt Simpson said.
“It’s horrific,” he added. “There’s no other word to describe what happened today.”