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THE SCOOP | Woman Assaulted At The Toronto Symphony

By Michael Vincent on June 22, 2017

Aisha Ahmad
Aisha Ahmad (Photo via @ProfAishaAhmad/Twitter)

A University of Toronto professor, boxer and security specialist was assaulted before a performance of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” when an elderly man approached her and karate chopped her in the neck.

In an interview with Global News, Aisha Ahmad stated she was sitting with a friend and took a photo of the orchestra without flash, which is allowed. A man sitting nearby approached her, hit her in the neck and told her to put her phone away.

“It was neither a tap nor a notification,” Ahmad said in a statement to Global News. “I was stunned, and he said to me, ‘Put that away. You’re acting like a child.’ To which I turned around and said, ‘You cannot hit me. That is assault. If you hit me again, I will charge you.’”

Ahmad said others sitting in the section quickly took the man’s side, and suggested that it may have been because she was a member of a visible minority.

According to the Globe, she then got up to report the incident to the RTH staff. Ahmad asserted the staff initially said they could not do anything, unless others could confirm her story.

Ahmad said the man approached her a second time during the intermission. She tried to film the interaction with her phone at which point the man lunged at her. She then walked away to avoid any further escalation.

She then called the police to report the incident. She said it was only then that staff finally stepped in, and kicked the man out.

The TSO released the following statement:

The TSO has zero tolerance for abusive, violent, and disruptive behaviour. We regret this happened and take this situation very seriously.

The offender was ejected from the hall and is no longer welcome at the TSO. The matter has been turned over to the police.

As our audience represents all factions of society we will from time to time have audience members who hold views and behave in ways that run contra to the values of the TSO.

The TSO is an environment that welcomes the broad diversity of people that represent the rich fabric of this city and society.

We have proudly seen the make-up of our audience change over the years and continue to work toward making the TSO accessible and welcoming to each and every member of society.

One where everyone feels safe, has a place in our audience and above all feels they belong. 

TSO public relations director Francine Labelle contacted Ahmad personally and offered a formal apology and free tickets to another concert. Ahmad told the Globe that she is not sure if she wants to come back.

For more CLASSICAL MUSIC NEWS, visit HERE.

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Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig van Toronto. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
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