Police investigate after man allegedly pulls knife on Muslim woman on Toronto subway
Investigators believe the victim was 'targeted because of her Muslim faith,' police say
- On Thursday, Toronto police said a 47-year-old man was arrested and charged with possession of a dangerous weapon and assault with a weapon.
Police are now probing the case of a man who allegedly pulled a knife on a Muslim woman on a Toronto subway train last week as a suspected hate-motivated assault.
In a news release on Wednesday, police said the incident, which took place on March 9 at about 5 p.m., is being treated as a "suspected hate-motivated" offence after officers consulted the service's specialized hate crime unit. Initially, police did not consider it a possible hate crime.
"Investigators believe the victim was targeted because of her Muslim faith," police said in the release.
he National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), in a news release on Monday, had urged police to consider the incident a suspected hate crime.
According to police, the woman was on Line 1 heading southbound from Vaughan Metropolitan Station, when she was approached by a man. The man began talking to her and then pulled out a knife, police said.
Police said the woman ran from the subway train at Wilson Station, before police were called.
The NCCM said the woman, who was wearing a hijab, ran across several subway cars and stopped when a bystander helped her by pulling the train's emergency alarm.
The organization said the man asked the victim several questions about Muslims and Islam, and hypothetical questions about what she would do if someone hit her head and got away with it.
It added that the man said, "You know what we do with people like you," before pulling a large knife out of his backpack.
Suspect believed to be armed and dangerous
Police described the suspect as wearing layered clothing, including a black hooded sweatshirt, a dark baseball cap, a black leather jacket and green military-style pants. He was also carrying a green backpack.
The man is believed to be armed and dangerous, they added.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police or submit a tip anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
When suspected hate-motivated offences are reported to police, the investigation will be led by what's called a divisional investigator, police say. The hate crime unit will be made aware and specialized officers from that unit will support the investigation as needed.
Police add that if person is convicted of a crime believed to be motivated by "bias, prejudice or hate," a judge will consider "hate as an aggravating factor" when sentencing.
Nadia Hasan, chief operating officer of the NCCM, had called the incident a "brazen Islamophobic attack" on a young Muslim woman.
"This is not the first time we have seen an Islamophobic attack on a Muslim woman who wears a hijab on public transit," Hasan said.
"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 recent spate of attacks on the TTC is alarming. It's time for change."