Toronto schoolgirl, 11, ‘really scared’ after hijab cut in scissors attack
Published Friday, January 12, 2018 10:58AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 12, 2018 6:59PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned an attack on an 11-year-old girl whose hijab was allegedly cut with a pair of scissors.
“My heart goes out the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion,” Trudeau told reporters in London, Ont.
“We all need to remind ourselves of today and every day that we are better than this,” the prime minister added.
Police said Friday that they are searching for a man they say cut Khawlah Noman’s hijab as she walked to school.
Toronto Police spokesperson Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu told CP24 the girl was on her way to Pauline Johnson Public School in Scarborough, when she felt something and turned around to see a man trying to cut her hijab with a pair of scissors. She screamed and ran away, but the man returned less than 10 minutes later and tried to cut it once again.
Toronto police are investigating reports of a man allegedly cutting off a girl’s hijab in the city’s east end, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Police say the Grade 6 student was not injured, but her hijab had a number of cuts in it.
“It’s startling, it’s disturbing, it’s nerve wracking,” Sidhu told reporters on Friday. “Young kids coming to school shouldn’t have to face this.”
“This girl was brave enough to confront the man, look at the man and make a noise, which is very good for her to realize this is wrong.”
Noman told reporters gathered at the school on Friday afternoon, that she felt “confused, scared and terrified” when seeing the man behind her and that she is now afraid to walk to class.
“I’m actually really scared, but I have family to support me,” she said. “This is terrible and I do not like it. I feel like this should stop.”
When asked what she would say to the suspect, Noman added: “What you’re doing is way wrong. You should not act like this and especially (since) I’m a kid.”
Officers describe the suspect as an Asian man in his 20s with a medium build. He has black hair, a moustache and wears glasses.
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed school staff contacted police and the girl’s family once they heard what had happened.
“We are shocked to learn of this assault and we will be working closely with police to offer any assistance that we can,” Bird told CP24. “In the meantime, we are offering supports to the impacted student and her family.”
Noman’s mother Saima Samad also talked to reporters at the school.
“I’m just so happy she’s safe,” Samad said fighting back tears as she explained that, in her 25 years living in Canada, she had never experienced such an incident.
“It’s just not Canada,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a Canadian. I feel safe in this community and it’s just not right.”
Toronto Police spokesperson Katrina Arrogante told The Canadian Press that officers aren’t treating the incident as a hate crime, but are not ruling it out.
The incident has caught the attention of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who called it a “cowardly act of hatred” in a tweet.
“We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab,” she said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory also expressed his shock with what he called an “act of hatred.”
“No child should ever be afraid walking to school in Toronto because of what they are wearing or for any other reason,” he said in a statement. “I join with all Toronto residents in standing up to such an act of hatred. Intolerance and hate of any kind, including islamophobia, has no place in our city, our province, or our country.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called the attack “despicable,” telling reporters in Mississauga, Ont., that it “has no place in Canadian society.”
“I certainly hope that the Toronto Police Services are able to track down the person who committed this violent act and my thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Scheer said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the attack “a cowardly act of hatred.”
“This does not represent who we are,” the premier added in a statement posted to Twitter. “We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab,” she added.
With files from CP24 and The Canadian Press