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Suspects sought after racist comments directed at Muslim women on subway
Police are searching for three suspects after two women wearing hijabs were verbally harassed on a Toronto subway train.
The incident occurred on an eastbound subway train, at approximately 6 p.m. on Wednesday, TTC Head of Communications Brad Ross told CTVNews.ca.
Ross said two men and a woman boarded a train, then approached two women wearing hijabs. They made derogatory and racist comments toward the Muslim women.
"There is an allegation of words about them being terrorists," Ross said, adding that one of the suspects pushed another TTC rider during the altercation.
According to one witness, as the packed train rolled into the station, the verbal harassments became louder and more aggressive.
Joe McInich said the suspects told the women to "go back where (they) came from."
McInich then confronted the men.
"I told them that the two ladies belonged in Canada, and (the aggressors) didn't."
Another witness later activated the emergency alarm and the train was stopped at Sherbourne Station.
The men fled the scene when the doors opened, Ross said.
TTC special constables were called to the scene and took statements from the victims and witnesses. The statements were then handed to police.
"It's a sad day when we have to report this type of activity," Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters, calling the incident an example of Islamophobia.
Investigators are working with the TTC to review security camera footage captured at the time of the incident.
"We condemn it in the strongest language possible," Ross said.
"We want to assure everyone that the TTC is a safe and secure transit system for all of the people of Toronto."
A representative of the company behind GO Transit made similar comments on Thursday after racist graffiti was found on one of its trains.
Anti-Muslim graffiti was found on a GO train on Thursday, and the coach was taken out of service so the text could be removed.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said that the organization has "no tolerance" for discrimination.
She said officials are conducting an investigation to determine whether they can identify the person or persons responsible.
"We encourage anyone who sees evidence of racist or discriminatory behaviour to let us know so we can take decisive action to address it," Aikins said in a statement.
"We believe that all our customers are entitled to safety, dignity and respect, and we will do all we can do to promote and maintain those values.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney