Beating of Muslim woman on city bus called result of Sept. 11 racist backlash

Beating of Muslim woman on city bus called result of Sept. 11 racist 


TORONTO (CP) - The ugly bruises under her eyes still bear witness to 
what Fatema Hussain says was
an unprovoked beating on a city bus, one she says provoked laughter 
among other passengers.

The 50-year-old mother of eight children, five still at home, is a 
victim, her supporters say, of
a post-Sept. 11 backlash against Muslims in Canada, and something has 
to be done. "I couldn't
sleep from the pain," Hussain, wearing a traditional head scarf, told a 
news conference Tuesday
through an interpreter. "I'm still in pain and I'm not feeling at 

Hussain, who fled violence and oppression in Iraq two years ago, said 
she was heading home from a
shopping expedition just after four o'clock one afternoon last week 
when the bus driver rejected
her transfer, ripped it up and told her to pay again.

When she refused, she says the driver and passengers began yelling at 
her to get off the bus,
while others laughed.

Hussain says a passenger then grabbed her shopping bags, threw them off 
the bus and pushed her
roughly out the door as she got off to retrieve them.

When she turned around, she says the man punched her in the head, 
knocking her briefly

Hussain says a passerby finally helped her back onto the bus and the 
driver called police.

"The police told me they could do nothing about it because the guy who 
had punched me had fled the
scene," Hussain said.

But Toronto police spokesman Sgt. Jim Muscat said Tuesday that police 
consider the incident
"serious" and are investigating it.

The Toronto Transit Commission said the driver followed normal 

The commission was unaware of any complaint against the driver, 
spokeswoman Marilyn Bolton said.
She added that the commission had been told Hussain's son was satisfied 
with the explanations he
was given about why the transfer was rejected.

New Democrat Peter Kormos called the incident "disturbing" and 
described as an outrage what he
believes has been its insufficient investigation.

"How can we as a community leave this woman punched, beaten and bruised 
and not do anything
meaningful about it?" said Kormos.

"This is not an isolated incident. Canadians are being attacked and 
these attacks have been
nurtured by the climate of hatred that has flowed from Sept. 11."

In fact, Toronto police say there was a "significant increase" in 
hate-related complaints in the
city after the terror attacks in the U.S., but that the number is now 
what it was before Sept. 11.

"That number dropped steadily in the next couple of months and it's 
come back to a normal amount,"
said Det.-Const. Samuel Samm of the Toronto police hate-crimes section.

Nevertheless, Kormos wants the Ontario government to resurrect the 
province's anti-racism
secretariat. He is also asking retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, 
appointed last fall as Ontario's
security adviser, to investigate.


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