Man Cuts Off Hijab of 11-Year-Old Muslim Schoolgirl in Canada


A Toronto schoolgirl was assaulted Friday by a man who tried to cut off her hijab with scissors and then fled, police said.

"This is awful and I do not like it", she told reporters at a news conference at her school hours after the incident.

The grade six student at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School recounted how she screamed, causing him to run off. 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.

When Khawlah was asked what she would say to the man if she had a chance, she said, "I think what you're doing is wrong. He smiled and ran away", Khawlah Noman said.

The Canadian statistical agency, Statistics Canada, found that there was an increase of reported hate crimes against Muslims in Canada from 2014 to 2015, from 99 incidents to 159, an increase of 60 percent.

Officers describe the suspect as an Asian man in his 20s with a medium build.

"I'm just happy she's safe", said Samad, her voice breaking.

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Toronto police lauded Khawlah's quick thinking and response to the attack, with Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu saying she was "very, very smart" for shouting and joining the group of students ahead of her. Sidhu said this is "an isolated incident", such that she has never seen in her 20 years of service.

Khawlah, who was wearing a white hijab loaned from a friend, said her own light blue hijab that she had been wearing earlier in the day had been left with a cut that was about 30 centimetres long.

The school board's social work team was on site, and letters will also be sent home with students at all three schools in the Scarborough neighbourhood addressing the assault against Khawlah. "We must stand firm in our support to this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab". "I am so proud to be a Canadian, and I feel so safe in this community". "I don't know why he did that, but it's just not Canada".

"This school lives inclusiveness", she said.

"A day of action will express our recommitment to fight Islamaphobia, and become a rallying call", he said. There has been a surge in Islamophobic attacks in the country and mosques have been targeted.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his heart goes out to the girl.

The incident has caught the attention of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who called it a "cowardly act of hatred" in a tweet.