Why bystanders sometimes stay silent

Two Muslim women are accosted and pushed on a Toronto subway. Another is assaulted and robbed after dropping off her kids off at school.

Incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise, according to the Canadian Arab Federation. Since the Paris attacks in November, there's been a sharp spike — enough that the National Council of Canadian Muslims created an online map to track such incidents.

The incidents grab the attention of media, but not always of bystanders who witness an attack.

Sundus, who doesn't want her last name used for privacy reasons, was riding a crowded bus in Toronto last December when she was verbally assaulted by a woman.

"She told me that I should get raped and go back to my country," the 27-year-old recalls. "There was a bus full of people who did nothing, who said nothing. Not a word."

In a months-long investigation, Marketplace examined how racial and cultural bias affects how we're treated and how we treat one another, including why we intervene — or don't — to defend a stranger.

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