Toronto commuters use #Illridewithyou to support Muslim community

Nov 20, 2015 | News

Ashleigh Darrach

15408107684_32b0ee979dAfter a string of Islamophobic incidents locally and across Canada following the Paris attacks, Toronto public transit users are showing their support for the Muslim community.

Commuters have been signing support messages on Twitter with the hashtag #Illridewithyou as a pledge of safety for Muslim people who don’t feel safe traveling alone right now. Earlier this week a woman was verbally abused on the TTC by three people.

GO Transit staff discovered vulgar graffiti targeting Muslim females.

Anne Marie Aikins, manager of media relations of Metrolinx (the agency that oversees GO Transit), told Humber News the organization is outraged by the graffiti.

“We’re extremely upset to see it,” Aikins said. “We want to make sure that we have to send a message out there that if people see something, experience something on our system, that they speak out.”

Aikins also said transit staff have been the subject of Islamophobic remarks.

“We had one staff member have customers refuse to buy tickets from her because she’s Muslim,” Aikins said

She added the company has a zero tolerance harassment policy to protect customers and staff.

Aikins said Metrolinx has deployed extra security across the GO system, and they’re encouraging people to speak up and report information.

“Potentially hundreds if not thousands of people saw it, and it wasn’t reported to us,” Aikins said. “That’s what we really want to press on people, let’s not leave it for another person to have to look at.”

The #illridewithyou hashtag has sparked awareness across Toronto:

Toronto Police officer Matthew Moyer joined many others at the solidarity march held at Flemingdon Park on Friday to take a stand against crimes targeting Muslims that have been taking place in the city. The March was specifically organized around the assault of a Muslim woman who’s hijab was ripped off by two men who also called her a terrorist.

“In a time of anger, when your moral values are being threatened, they cried peace.” Moyer said. “I thought that was amazing, and I’m flattered to even be involved.”

Shara Fathima, a Muslim woman who attended the rally, said the recent incidents have left her afraid.

“It’s not fair that I have to think twice when I wear a hijab for my safety, and the safety of my [two children].”

– With files from Kelsey Coles