A Muslim woman who was threatened with a knife on the TTC in a suspected hate-motivated assault last week said she is still shaken by what she experienced.
“It’s pretty scary,” the woman said.
She spoke with Global News on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety.
She said a man began engaging in conversation while she was riding the subway downtown to meet some friends.
“He started talking and the first question he asked was, ‘Hey I heard Muslims are not so good,’” she said, adding she continued to speak with him to answer any questions he had about her faith.
“He sounded really interested about Islam, so I kept talking about it. … He asked me about what is the Muslim faith.”
At one point, however, things took a turn and the man pulled a knife from his backpack.
“As soon as I saw the knife, I started running through the carts and I looked back at one point and I saw the rest of the people running too. I just didn’t look back I kept going,” she said.
Toronto police said on March 9 at around 4:50 p.m., officers received a report of a person with a knife at Wilson Subway Station in the Allen Road and Wilson Avenue area.
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Police said a woman was riding on the subway from Vaughan Metropolitan Station when she was approached by the suspect and engaged in a conversation.
Officers said the suspect allegedly became agitated and produced a knife.
According to police, the woman ran from the train at Wilson station.
“Investigators believe the victim was targeted because of her Muslim faith,” police said in a news release.
Police said on Wednesday, 47-year-old Philip J. Fenton was arrested.
He has been charged with weapons dangerous and assault with a weapon.
Nadia Hasan, the chief operating officer with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the incident was an example of “brazen Islamophobia.”
“I think we have a lot of work to do to address this problem,” she said.
“What’s happening now is it’s making Muslim women have a whole conversation around how to ensure their safety, how to go about taking public transit, or whether or not they should even take public transit. There is a lot of limitations that are coming up to mobility and freedom to do what you need to do and go about your day that arising for Muslim women who wear a hijab or niqab.”
The woman said she is feels unsure when she will feel ready to ride the TTC again.
“I feel really scared going on the train by myself,” she said, adding she hopes people learn to be more tolerant of others, regardless of their beliefs.
“I hope there is more tolerance to any thought, practice or belief.”
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