Toronto Muslim woman's assault appears 'motivated by hate'

TORONTO (AP) — Police in Toronto said Tuesday that the assault and robbery of a Muslim woman appears to have been "motivated by hate."

Police said two men beat the woman up Monday while she was heading to pick up her son from school.

"It was a completely unprovoked attack," said Const. Victor Kwong. "She was punched all over and kicked."

The two men used bigoted slurs and tried to rip off the woman's hijab, Kwong said. She was robbed of her cellphone and some money, he said.

"There's no doubt that this is hate-motivated," Kwong said, noting that police typically see a spike in such incidents after events like the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

The woman was treated in a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening and later released. Police have not identified the woman.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who represents the riding where the Toronto assault took place, said Canadians need to guard against racism.

"This is actually a time we need to reach out to our Muslim neighbors and friends and recognize the acts that took place in Paris were acts of terrorism and not borne of religion," said Wynne.

Toronto Mayor John Tory also denounced the attack, calling it "disgusting, unacceptable and not reflective of our city's values."

The assault came two days after a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, was set on fire in an act police are treating as a hate crime.

Police are still searching for suspects in the Saturday night blaze and say it is unclear if it was connected to the attacks in Paris the previous day.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for last week's attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead. French officials said the attacks were carried out by disaffected French Muslims under the supervision of a Belgian who had fought in Syria.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has advised Muslims to be vigilant against potential backlash, saying there was concern members of the community would be targeted.

It decried both the assault on the woman and anti-Muslim graffiti seen in Toronto.

"Such hateful and cowardly acts are abhorrent to all Canadians who stand united in condemning xenophobia and hatred," said executive director Ihsaan Gardee.