This week, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) issued a press release calling on the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to investigate a hate-motivated crime that took place on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on March 9, 2023 at around 5:00 p.m. Today, TPS updated the public by releasing information about the case and a photo of the suspect.
A woman wearing a hijab was threatened by a man brandishing a large knife between Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station and Finch West Station on the TTC. The survivor ran for her life across several subway cars until a bystander helped by pulling the emergency alarm on the train.
TPS released an image and description of the suspect on March 16.
“The suspect is described as male, approximately 50-60 years old, thin build, and has a long white beard,” read the TPS news release. “He was wearing layered clothing including a black hoodie, dark baseball cap, black leather jacket, green military style pants, and was carrying a green backpack.”
News Release – Suspected hate-motivated assault with a weapon investigation, Wilson Subway Stationhttps://t.co/jkNdHY2Hn7 pic.twitter.com/fXh96XHks8
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) March 15, 2023
“He is believed to be armed and dangerous. If located, do not approach and call 9-1-1 immediately,” the statement added.
According to NCCM, the assailant asked the victim several questions about Muslims and Islam, asked her hypothetical questions about what she would do if someone hit her head and got away with it, and told her you know what we do with people like you before unsheathing a large knife he pulled out of his backpack.
*I was just trying to get to Spadina station to meet with some friends. I never thought something like this could happen on public transit in front of all these people. The moment I saw him take out his knife, I ran and ran until I was out of breath and a stranger helped me. I’ve never been so afraid in my life. I hope the police find this man and take him into custody and get him some help so he doesn’t do this to any other Muslim woman again,” said Sara (pseudonym for privacy of the survivor).
“This is a brazen Islamophobic attack on a young Muslim woman who was just trying to go about her everyday life,” said Nadia Hasan, COO of NCCM. “This is not the first time we have seen an Islamophobic attack on a Muslim woman who wears a hijab on public transit. There is a problem in this country where spaces that most Canadians take for granted simply aren’t safe for Muslim women and people of colour.”
The news comes as TPS also issued a statement that it was no longer going to be offering extra patrols on the TTC in the city.