Muslim woman sworn at, told to go back to her country on TTC bus

A Muslim woman says she was told to go back to her own country while riding a crowded TTC bus and left to fend for herself by fellow passengers who didn't intervene while she was being abused.

TTC investigating incident that took place on busy Thorncliffe Park bus route

Sundus A. said she was worried her hijab would make her a target for abuse, but was still shocked when she was sworn at on a city bus while nobody stepped in to defend her. (CBC)

A Muslim woman says she was told to go back to her own country while riding a crowded TTC bus and left to fend for herself by fellow passengers who didn't intervene while she was being abused.

Sundus A., 27, said she was sitting in the back corner of the 81 Thorncliffe Park Bus to Pape Station around 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday when a middle-aged white woman sat next to her and began verbally assaulting her.

"She told me that I should get raped and go back to my country," Sundus told CBC News.

"There was a bus full of people who did nothing, who said nothing. Not a word."

There was a bus full of people who did nothing, who said nothing. Not a word.- Sundus A.

The incident is the latest in a series of anti-Muslim incidents in Ontario. Following the Paris attacks, a mosque in Peterborough was hit by arson ins a suspected in hate crime.

Later, a mother — who Sundus knows — was beaten and robbed by two men near her children's school in Flemingdon Park, an area with a high concentration of immigrants.

Sundus, who was raised in Canada, said she was afraid something might happen to her in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Now, she expects more North American anti-Muslim backlash following Wednesday's mass shooting in California.

On the bus, Sundus said the woman told her: "Canada has no place for people like you," to which she responded: "Canada has no place for people like you if you're going to behave like this in a public space."

Sundus said she wanted to alert the driver. But doing so would have required her to move past the woman, so she decided against it because she worried the altercation could have gotten physical.

Instead, she tried to remain calm and take a stern tone with the woman, especially as others on the bus were watching the confrontation. She was careful not to swear. But the woman, who Sundus described as well-dressed, continued to argue with her.

"Your parents are f—ked if they brought you to this country," Sundus said the woman told her.

'It's just not fair'

"No one should feel like they're in it on their own" while confronting hatred, Sundus said. (CBC)
At Pape Station, the bus emptied out and the woman left.

At the station, several people patted Sundus on the shoulder and told her she'd handled the situation well. But she's upset nobody on the bus stepped in to help her.

"No one should feel like they're in it on their own while they're being attacked and have people watching as if it's some kind of show," she said.

"It's just not fair to be in that situation on your own," she said, adding she hopes sharing her story will encourage others to help anyone who is getting cornered and bullied.

Personally, the incident has left Sundus shaken. On Tuesday, she said she had to take the day off from her job at a major downtown bank. She also said she now stands with her back to the wall on TTC subway platforms because she's afraid someone might push her.

TTC investigating incident

The TTC confirmed it has received a complaint is looking into the matter.

TTC spokesman Danny Nicholson said it's "very, very unfortunate these things happen," and said Sundus's complaint has been handed over to the transit agency's human rights department as well as its transit enforcement branch.

"This is obviously a verbal assault," he said.

Nicholson also reminded customers who are being threatened that they can always push the yellow emergency alarm.

If notified of the incident, Nicholson said, the driver would have "absolutely" pulled the bus over and notified enforcement officers.

However, Nicholson said, video surveillance from the bus may have been erased before the complaint was lodged, which could prove to be a challenge when it comes to identifying a suspect.

Sundus said she also left a voicemail with the Toronto police hate crimes unit on Wednesday, though she hasn't yet heard back from them.


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