Osama Omar, 21, says he was attacked while waiting for a streetcar near Spadina Avenue and College Street, after a weekend study session.
"A man approached me, without saying anything at all, he just came up to me and spat directly in my face," he told CBC News. Toronto has seen a number of racist incidents in the wake of last week's deadly attacks in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility.
"I was so taken aback and shocked by the action, I didn't really know how to respond other than to ask him, you know, 'Sir, is there something wrong? Why did you do that?'"
Omar said he never received an answer.
He was wearing a topi at the time of the incident; a short, rounded skullcap worn in many Islamic communities.
"He misunderstood it for a turban and told me to take the turban off," Omar said.
Omar said he again asked the man if there was something wrong or if his topi was bothering him. That's when the man allegedly started punching at him.
In a panic, Omar backed away. Throughout the incident, he says the man continued to spew profane language and insults at him.
'Islamophobia is real'
Omar also described the ordeal, and the woman who came to his aid, in a Facebook post.
"As I helplessly looked around, an elderly lady approached. She had seen the entire incident from across the street," Omar wrote online. "She apologized on behalf of the man, and told me not to take him as a generalized representation of what society has become."
Despite her kindness, Omar said he was at a loss for words and trembling.
"I've had no such experience before," he said.
It's not clear what became of his attacker. Omar was not injured.
The threat of violence left him feeling "uneasy" over the past few days, he said online. But he said he feels no ill will toward the other man.
"I'm not reaching a conclusion for what the man did because he is, after all, a man, and we all make mistakes. Perhaps that was one of his mistakes," he said.
But in his Facebook post, which was published early Wednesday morning, Omar said he experienced something new in Toronto.
"Islamophobia is real." he said in the post. "In light of recent events and incidents of violence, I remain hopeful for my beloved city of Toronto."
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