Two US men killed protecting Muslim women from racial abuse

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A man fatally stabbed two passengers aboard a Portland, Oregon, commuter train after they tried to stop him from harassing a pair of apparent Muslim women, police said on Saturday.

The assailant was identified by police as Jeremy Joseph Christian of Portland, a 35-year-old convicted felon. He was arrested soon after the Friday afternoon attack.

The incident unfolded hours before the start of Ramadan, Islam's holy month, when most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims observe a daily religious fast.

It began when Christian started shouting ethnic and religious slurs, apparently directing them at two young women on the train, one of whom wore a Muslim head covering, the Portland Police Department said in a statement.

Jeremy Joseph  Christian. (AP)
Jeremy Joseph Christian. (AP)

Three men who intervened were stabbed. One of them died at the scene while another died at a hospital, and the third was treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Christian was booked into jail on two counts of aggravated murder and charges of attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon. He was ordered held without bail.

Police declined to release details of Christian's prior criminal history. But the Oregonian newspaper reported he had been convicted of robbery, kidnapping and weapon charges, citing court records. It was not immediately clear if he had obtained an attorney.

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