Toronto police have launched an investigation after a woman wearing a hijab was reportedly threatened by a man armed with a knife at the TTC.
In a statement provided to CP24 on Monday afternoon, police spokeswoman Cindy Chung confirmed that officers were called to the Wilson Station on a report of a person with a knife just before 5:00 p.m. on the 9th. of March.
Chung did not provide further details about the investigation, but said members of the Toronto Police Service’s Hate Crimes Unit have been notified and that “specialized officers from that unit will support the investigation as necessary.”
“Toronto Police are aware of this incident and are currently investigating, including reviewing TTC camera footage,” it said.
News of the investigation comes hours after the National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement, calling on police to investigate the incident as a “hate-motivated crime” and “arrest the armed assailant urgently.”
In the statement, the organization said a woman wearing a hijab was traveling on the tube between Vaughan Metropolitan and Finch West stations when a “man approached her and peppered her with questions about her religion.”
The group stated that the man then said “you know what we do with people like you” before “unsheathing a large knife he took from his backpack”.
“The survivor ran for her life through several subway cars until a passerby helped activate the emergency alarm on the train,” the statement said.
Police have not released any details about the incident, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
However, the NCCM statement did include an account from the alleged victim, who was identified by a pseudonym.
“I never thought something like this could happen on public transport in front of all these people,” the woman said.
“The moment I saw him pull out his knife, I ran and ran until I was out of breath and a stranger helped me. I have never been so afraid in my life. I hope the police find this man, arrest him and help him so that he doesn’t do this to another Muslim woman again.”
1/3. Last week a young #Muslim They took a knife out of the woman’s #Toronto Underground.
A man approached her and peppered her with questions about her religion. She then pulled out a large knife. She ran for her life and escaped from her. pic.twitter.com/LxyItpqOyv
— NCCM (@nccm) March 13, 2023
In the statement, Nadia Hasan, NCCM’s director of operations, described what happened as a “blatant Islamophobic attack on a young Muslim woman who was just trying to go about her daily life.”
“This is not the first time that we have seen an Islamophobic attack on a Muslim woman wearing a hijab on public transport,” he said.
“There is a problem in this country where spaces that most Canadians take for granted are simply not safe for Muslim women and people of color. The recent wave of attacks on the TTC is alarming. It is time to change.”
This latest call to action comes on the same day that Toronto police announced they would be reducing their presence at the TTC following a series of recent violent incidents.
In January, an additional 80 police officers were deployed to patrol the transit system at a cost of approximately $1.5 million a month.
Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, in a tweet posted Monday afternoon, said Islamophobia is unacceptable anywhere in Toronto, including on our transit systems.
“I am extremely concerned about the incident described by NCCM today,” she tweeted, adding that she contacted Toronto police, who “confirmed that they are investigating this with the cooperation of (the TTC).”
“People must be able to travel on public transport without fear of violence, threats or hate.”
York South-Weston MPP Michael Ford also took to Twitter to condemn the incident.
“Islamophobia and hate of any kind is unacceptable and has no place in Ontario. My thoughts are with the woman who went through this horrible incident,” she wrote.
“I have full faith that the Toronto Police will leave no stone unturned as they fully investigate this incident.”