'Stop doing this. I’m a kid': Man cuts hijab off young girl, returns to attack again
11-year-old Khawlah Noman's hijab was cut with a pair of scissors while she was walking to school in Scarborough. The man fled the scene, only to return ten minutes later.
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Update – January 16, 2018: Toronto Police say they have determined that this incident did not occur. See follow-up story here.
A Scarborough mother is demanding police label an assault against her daughter a hate crime after the child’s hijab was cut with a pair of scissors while she was walking to school.
The girl, a student at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School, was then attacked a second time, ten minutes after the first assault. The man fled the scene after the assault.
The incident happened Friday morning near Pauline Johnson Junior Public School in Scarborough, police confirmed.
Police say they are seeking a male suspect described as Asian, in his 20s, with a medium build of roughly 5’8” – 6’0. He has black hair, a moustache, and was wearing glasses, a black hoodie, and black pants. The man used scissors with a blue handle, and was wearing brown gloves, the girl told reporters.
Speaking at a press conference Friday, the victim, 11-year-old Khawlah Noman, says the man smiled at her when he cut her hijab. She appeared alongside her mother, Saima Samad, and her younger brother, 10- year-old Mohammad Zakariyya, who was walking with her at the time of her attack.
Noman had been walking for about two minutes up Birchmount Rd. when the incident occurred. After the attack, she crossed to the other side of the road and joined a group of children, she said. The second attack happened after Noman, her brother, and a group of children went to cross the light at Bay Mills Blvd. Zakariyya did not make the light in time to safely cross, and his sister waited for him to get across Birchmount. She was left alone, separated from the group, and the man attacked her a second time.
Her brother told reporters that he was frightened, and worried his sister would be hurt. “I’m so glad that she’s safe and I’m safe.”
Wearing a white hijab loaned from a friend, Noman quietly told reporters that the light blue hijab she wore to school now had a large cut in it, approximately 30 cm long. The blue hijab is now with police as evidence.
Zakariyya said his sister’s hood was pulled up over her head before the attack. The man removed her hood before cutting her hijab.
“What you’re doing is very wrong, you should stop doing this. I’m a kid,” the girl said to her attacker.
The girl said she’s confused and scared following the incident.
Speaking at the podium, the girl’s emotional mother told reporters she was “happy that she’s safe,” and said the community has been supportive of her daughter.
“I don’t know why he did that, it’s just not Canada. I’m so proud to be a Canadian, and I feel so safe in this community,” Samad said.
Samad said she grew up in Canada and has been here for 25 years, and has not seen this type of incident before.
“I’m frustrated and I’m angry, but I do believe in peace in Canada. I am so proud to be a Canadian, and I want to give him the same message,” she said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the assault a “cowardly act of hatred”in a tweet posted Friday.
“This does not represent who we are. We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted for simply wearing a hijab,” the premier wrote on Twitter.