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Toronto police investigate report of man cutting 11-year-old's hijab as hate crime

Last Updated Jan 15, 2018 at 10:23 am PST

Khawlah spoke to reporters alongside her mother, Saima. Khawlah, 11, said a man cut her hijab while she was walking to school in Toronto. A Toronto police investigation has since concluded that the incident did not happen. (Courtesy Twitter @Misener680NEWS) (Courtesy Twitter @Misener680NEWS)

UPDATE January 15, 2018: Toronto Police now say this incident did not happen.

More details: Hijab-cutting attack in Toronto never happened: police

TORONTO – An 11-year-old Toronto girl says she was walking to school this morning when a man used scissors and cut parts of her hijab.

The Grade 6 student says she was with her younger brother when she felt someone behind her. The man then reportedly pulled off the hood of her jacket and started cutting the back of her hijab.

Khawlah Noman says she then turned around, screamed and the man ran away.

The man apparently returned a short time later and continued to cut her hijab from behind.

“He just smiled and ran away,” says Khawlah.

The girl says by the time she got to school at about 9 a.m., her hijab had cuts in it as long as 30 centimetres.

The girl was not physically hurt, but her mother told reporters she is angry someone would target a child.

“It’s just not Canada. I’m so proud to be a Canadian and I feel safe in this community. It’s not right and he should get help,” says Saima Sanad.

No arrest has been made, but police say they are investigating the attack as a hate crime. Officers say they are looking for a suspect in his 20s.

‘We are better than this’: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among those sending support to the schoolgirl. “I want her and her family and her friends and community to know, that that is not what Canada is, and that is not who Canadians are,” he told reporters. “And I like to think she knows that well.”

He adds this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in Canada. “This is a country of openness and welcome, and not a country where that is in any way acceptable, and that is something we all need to remind ourselves of today and every day, that we are better than this.”

Opposition leader Andrew Scheer — at a meeting of the Mississauga, Ontario Board of Trade, had this to say. “This type of thing is just despicable, and has no place in Canadian society. I certainly hope that the Toronto Police Services are able to track down the person that commited this violent act, and my thoughts and prayers are with the young girl and her family.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he is “shocked and appalled” to hear about the assault. He says no child should be afraid while walking to school because of what they are wearing or for any other reason.