This event happened about a week ago.
Its windy, dark, cold and wet outside. There is no rain, but a previous rain has left the pavement in a slippery way. I’ve gone for a run round the usual route round the Parc du Champs de Mars, which is just next to the Eiffel Tower. The half an hour run in these harsh conditions is quite rewarding, especially when you wake in the morning after.
The run finishes with a quick sprint up the steps of Musee de L’homme, and round the corner past the musee de l’homme cafe. That evening, it wasn’t possible to finish the run. 15 meters in front of me is a 6 foot 4 man, intimidating a woman at least a full head height shorter than him. He goes for a headbutt, missing by some distance quite deliberately. He leaves his head forward as he places clenched fists by his side, talking precise steps towards her. The gap between them is closing, despite the fact that shes cowering and peering behind her for a space to step. Shes clearly been in this position before; to twist your body round to look is to take your eyes off what you are avoiding is a bad move to make.
This incident is about to unfold in full sight of the 7 or so people around. Surprisingly no-one has made steps to intercede. Everyone has limits; mine are set at the instant he pulls his hand back for a strike. That is the moment for action. Before then, the mater may resolve itself with words, the preferred solution.
Something that I haven’t noticed is that upon completing the sprint, I’ve paused to observe the situation in a jog on the spot motion. Not a huge knees in the air jog, but one which resembles the boxers side to side stepping, just before he lunges forward at the punch bag. Coupled with an all black outfit (it just so happened to be all black that evening) and low comfortable shoulders, my presence is looking quite aggressive. Underneath this appearance, I’m just observing, waiting for the trigger, but hoping that its not pulled. I’m relaxed and calm, and with each step my breath is getting slower and slower, back to normal standing rate.
So what does every coward do before doing something stupid? He looks round. Having spotted me, he suddenly realises that he’s been watched all this time, and that he might have trouble pulling off a smack. He turns his attention towards me and takes a step in my direction.
From an Islamic perspective, Muslims are supposed to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. This can take many forms, and in this instance it involves defending someone who is unable to defend themselves. This includes all children, the elderly and women by default. Mostly, this situation is win-win. Allow me to break my analysis down for you:
- If he’s intimidated out of hitting her and calms down, she wins and he wins too; he won’t be going to jail
The complicated part is in explaining what might happen if he tries to attack me instead. Firstly, as a muslim, I believe that only God decides the timing of my death. If I’m to live until I’m 80 years old, its guaranteed. If I’m to die on a ferry which sinks in the sea, then I can’t avoid it. So in this instance, I’m not worried about death. If God decides I’m to die that day, its going to happen whether I’m hit by a bus, if I fall down a manhole, or if this man attacks me. This may sound a bit morbid, but its quite a relief knowing that all I have to do is take care of my health, God will decide the rest. Of course, my greater concern is always for those around me, family and friends who would be upset or set back in the event of my death. And of course, I don’t want it to happen any time soon My work schedule is too busy
If he attacks, and we have a little scuffle, he’s going to loose interest in further dealings very quickly. This is the nature of isolated public violence. People get embarrassed, feel ashamed, or realise that its just not worth it. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but sometimes you have to do what is right. Sometimes that means you get hurt, thats just how life is. Having grown up on a council estate, I’ve seen this happen many times before. 99% of incidents like this rely totally on posturing, so now is not the time to shrink in character or resolve. Most men appreciate that if their opposition is completely committed, its not worth it.
So what happened, I hear you asking?
He took a second step towards me, waving his arm vaguely at me as if to say “Whos this punk? “. I’m still jogging on the spot. I can hear the pat pat of water being lightly splashed under my feet; I had managed to stand in a shallow puddle. Just then, she shouts something to him, and he swings around with his attention back on her again. By now, some of those 7 or so people nearby have drawn closer to the situation and appear to know both the women and the man. Their group moulds back together as the man is calming down, him on one side of them, and the women on the other. They form together and the begin to head on a path beyond me, probably to go to the Eiffel Tower. I’m still not moving from my position. To do so is like saying your no longer paying attention. Taking your eyes off that kind of situation is the last thing you want to do. They walk past, the man only a few meters away from me now, but predictably he says and does nothing as they leave. I can smell alcohol on his breath. The pat pat sound turns into a squish squish sound as I walk back to the flat, reflecting on what just happened.