Toronto Muslim girl 'scared' after attacker cuts hijab

Saima Samad

Saima Samad

Toronto police are investigating an attack on an 11-year-old girl whose hijab headcovering was repeatedly cut on her way to school on Friday, heightening pressure on Canadian governments to take further action against attacks on Muslims.

"I felt confused, scared, terrified", Khawlah Noman, who is in Grade 6, told reporters at her school on Friday.

The little girl's younger brother said he saw the man pull off the hood of her sister's jacket. She looked at him and screamed while the attacker ran away.

A short time later, he returned to assault her again and ended up cutting 11 inches (30 centimeters) from her hijab, she said.

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.

Toronto Constable Jennifferjit Sidhu says they are looking for a suspect in his 20s.

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"She was courageous enough to confront the man, make some noise. and then proceed to walk with a bunch of other kids realizing there's safety in numbers", said Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu. He wore black trousers, a black hoodie and gloves, and sported a moustache.

Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed school staff contacted police and the girl's family once they heard what had happened.

The incident has inspired an outpouring of support, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

'My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning's cowardly attack on her in Toronto, ' he wrote. "In the meantime, we are offering supports to the impacted student and her family".

"We are shocked to learn of this assault and we will be working closely with police to offer any assistance that we can", the TDSB said in a statement. "I'm so glad that she's safe and I'm safe", he said. "We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab".

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the attack "a cowardly act of hatred". "I am so proud to be a Canadian, and I want to give (the attacker) the same message". "Intolerance and hate of any kind, including islamophobia, has no place in our city, our province, or our country".

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