Muslim women accosted on TTC, racist graffiti scrawled on GO train

Two Muslim women were accosted and verbally assaulted on a Toronto subway train on Wednesday night, the TTC said, and anti-Muslim graffiti was found on a GO Transit train.

TTC condemns incident, says it has 'zero tolerance' for anti-Muslim behaviour

Metrolinx staff discovered this anti-Muslim graffiti in a GO Transit train on Wednesday night. This image has been modified to obscure profanity. (Metrolinx)

Two Muslim women were accosted and verbally assaulted on a Toronto subway train on Wednesday night, the TTC said, and anti-Muslim graffiti was found on a GO Transit train.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross condemned the incident, which he said took place around 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Sherbourne Station.

The TTC has "zero tolerance for these kind of people," Ross told CBC News.

Two men and a woman boarded a train and proceeded to make racist comments about the two Muslim women, including an implication that they could be terrorists, he said.

The woman who was in the group that made the racial slurs allegedly pushed one of the Muslim women, Ross said.

A witness on the train activated the emergency alarm and the Toronto police officers and TTC special constables responded to the scene. The offenders, however, fled.

Police are investigating and officers took statements from the victims and witness, Ross said. 

The TTC is providing surveillance images to police in hope of finding those responsible.

Ross called the suspects "cowards."

Police are investigating. 

Anti-Muslim graffiti on GO train

Meanwhile, a GO Transit train that had been operating on the busy Lakeshore corridor was hit with anti-Muslim graffiti in one of its bathrooms. 

Metrolinx released an image of the scrawled slur which staff noticed when the train came in for cleaning on Wednesday night.

"We find it deeply offensive and it no way reflects our organization's value," said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.

Metrolinx is encouraging anyone who sees similar graffiti, or who feels threatened on the transit system, to either contact police or GO Transit security or staff. 

These are just the latest anti-Muslim incidents in the city following the attacks on Paris.

On Monday, a Muslim mother was beaten and robbed by two men after dropping her children off at a Flemingdon Park-area school. Last weekend, a mosque was set ablaze in Peterborough, Ont. 

Violence both Islamophobic, sexist

Mohamed El Rashidy, a lawyer with the Canadian Arab Federation, said there's been a spike in hate crime numbers this year — though many more go unreported.

People are calling me and they're scared.— Mohamed El Rashidy, lawyer with Canadian Arab Federation

The Federation, in partnership with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, has documented 42 cases against Arabs and Muslims across the country this year, the majority of which have taken place in Ontario and Quebec.

El Rashidy said some people contact him directly about hate crimes, or seek, through him, increased police presence for their neighbourhoods.

"People are calling me and they're scared," he told CBC News.

El Rashidy was one of several anti-racism activists who voiced their outrage at a Queen's Park news conference about the violence that's occurred across southern Ontario.

"We say enough. We call on all Canadians to come together," said Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Douglas pointed out that the recent attacks have been both Islamophobic as well as sexist, as it's primarily hijab-wearing women who have been the target of attacks.

"A hate crime is one of the most vile types of crime, because it is an attack upon identity and community," Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African-Canadian Legal Clinic, said in a news release ahead of the press conference.