SYDNEY -- An international student at Cape Breton University says he was assaulted while driving a cab in Sydney, and he believes the attack was racially motivated.

Akashdeep Singh Brar, 24, says he is now worried for his friends and scared to return to work.

Singh Brar says it still hurts to bend his knee and he has scrapes and bruises after an altercation with a customer.

"He started taking swings at me and started hitting me," he said. "I did push him and did everything I could to defend myself."

Singh Brar, who is from India, says it all started after he asked the customer to pay his fare upfront. He says the man became irate and started yelling obscenities and racial remarks. He then ripped a religious symbol hanging from the mirror in the car

"He was like, 'You guys come here, you guys do this and that, you snatched up all the jobs.' And I was like I can't take it anymore. I'm not here to face racism or hear the things that are disrespectful to my country and my community," he said.

Gunny Brar, the student union president at Cape Breton University, says it's not the first time he's heard of a racially motivated incident like this one, and it's translated to some students not wanting to work or go out late at night.

"I was talking to my family at home and they advised me not to go out by myself when it's later at night, so it is scary for everyone," Gunny Brar said.

"It is very sad that this type of incident happened in Cape Breton."

Cape Breton Regional Police did confirm that a 21-year-old man was arrested in relation to this incident and is facing charges of assault and mischief. He's due to appear in court later this month.

"Almost all of the people here are really good and I've had a really good experience being here and living here," said Singh Brar.

Despite that welcoming feeling, Singh Brar says he is now scared to return to work, which he says helps pay his tuition.

"It's the only job I have now," said Singh Brar. "I'm going to have to do my job because I have a lot of bills. But I am a little bit afraid now."

The owner of the cab company says it is policy to ask for money upfront if the customer is being taken out of town. He also said he has other international students that work for him and have told him about incidents of racial harassment but haven't reported it to police.