LONDON — A suspect has been arrested after a man was videotaped reading Bible passages to a Jewish man and a boy in the London Underground and accusing them of being “impostors,” in an episode of anti-Semitism that drew outrage.
The British Transport Police said on Saturday that the man, who was not named, was detained on suspicion of having committed a racially aggravated public order offense. Video of the harassment emerged on social media on Friday afternoon, a few hours after the encounter on the Northern Line of London’s subway system.
Video footage posted by another passenger and retweeted more than 18,000 times shows a man reading a section from the Bible to the Jewish man and boy, who are both wearing skullcaps. Witnesses said they were father and son.
The man with the Bible is shown leaning into the boy, quoting Scripture and pointing from the text to the family. The boy stares ahead, looking bewildered, while the man presumed to be his father, one arm wrapped around his son, speaks to him calmly. The man and boy have not been identified.
When another passenger objected, the man with the Bible began making threats.
“You get out of my face or I’m going to smack you right in the nose,” the man said. “Back up from me,” he continued, using a string of curse words. “I’m not no Christian pastor.”
At that point, a woman wearing a hijab intervened, telling him, “There’s children here.”
The man then turned his attention to the woman, later identified by local news outlets as Asma Shuweikh.
“Listen, these people are impostors, trying to claim our heritage,” he told her, referring to the Jewish couple. He also asked her why she was wearing pants.
Anti-Semitic episodes have been on the rise in Britain as a whole, according to recent figures, with the issue rising to the forefront of the nation’s politics because of accusations against members of the opposition Labour Party.
In the first six months of the year, Community Security Trust, a British charity focused on the security of Jews in the country, recorded 892 anti-Semitic cases across Britain — the highest ever recorded in the period running from January to June, according to a charity report published in August.
The confrontation Saturday on the London Underground was brought to the police’s attention after Chris Atkins, a filmmaker who shot the footage of the racial abuse, shared the video online.
Mr. Atkins wrote on Twitter that Ms. Shuweikh had been “incredibly brave” and that he had changed seats with the young boy.
Ms. Shuweikh, who could not be reached on Sunday, told Sky News that the man with the Bible had approached the Jewish man and boy, who were with other people not seen in the video, as soon as he saw them on the subway line in northern London.
“I thought, if I reason with him and talk to him and pretend that I’m sympathetic with what he’s saying, maybe I can defuse the problem because he was actually talking to a little boy,” Ms. Shuweikh said.
She added that the children of the group looked scared. She said the boy was asking, “Daddy, what’s happening?”
“I did start to panic when he came up into my face, but I managed to keep a calmness and keep trying to defuse the situation,” Ms. Shuweikh said.