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This Woman Says She Was Assaulted By A Man Who Mistook Her Scarf For A Hijab

"You need to get your fucking hijab off and get the fuck out of the country!"

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A Toronto woman says she was assaulted by a stranger who told her to take off her "hijab" and "get the fuck out of the country."

Kayla Gerber / Via facebook.com

Kayla Gerber said the assault happened on Monday, on her way back from a friend's house. She said she wasn't wearing a hijab, but she was bundled up in a winter scarf that covered her head to guard against the cold.

She said she was on her way to a subway station when she noticed a man walking in the other direction who kept looking at her. She told BuzzFeed Canada that when he got close, he grabbed her by the jacket and pushed her against a wall, demanding she give him what she had in her pockets.

"I was like, 'I have nothing in my pockets,' and he grabbed me by my jacket ... and pushed me against the wall and said, 'You need to get your fucking hijab off and get the fuck out of the country!' Over and over again."

Gerber said the assault happened on a busy pedestrian street, and once people started to stop and take notice of what was happening, her assailant let go of her and ran off.

Kayla Gerber

"I'm 5-foot-8 and he was still taller than me, and quite large and strong," Gerber said. "I can't imagine if I'd been cornered in a less busy place, what it would have been like."

She said her attacker, a stocky white male who looked to be about 30 years old, didn't look under the influence of anything.

"There was a lot of aggression but he wasn't slurring; his eyes weren't glossy or anything like that."

The 24-year-old actress said she was shaken but physically all right, and a couple who witnessed what had happened offered to walk with her to keep her safe.

Kayla Gerber

Gerber, who is of Indo-Jamaican descent, says this wasn't the first time she has suffered racial abuse. "However, it was the first time I was racially profiled for being a brown person and not for being black," she said.

Gerber said she filed a complaint with police, but since her assailant was "a very generic person" there was little hope of catching him.

Toronto Police did not respond to a BuzzFeed Canada request for comment.

There has been a spike in anti-Muslim incidents across Canada since the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, for which ISIS has taken credit.

Mosques have been broken into and torched, and several Muslim women have been assaulted.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the wave of attacks and the National Council of Canadian Muslims has called them "hateful and cowardly acts" of xenophobia and hatred.

Since posting about her assault on Facebook, Gerber says she's seen an outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike who are horrified by what happened. "I hope we can reach out to people of the Muslim faith," she said.

Kayla Gerber / Via instagram.com

"It's important that our refugees, our immigrants, even our people of Muslim faith who have been here longer than some people who are hating on them can feel safe in our country."

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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