Toronto police say hijab-cutting incident didn’t happen

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Police are disputing an 11-year-old girl’s claim that her hijab was cut by a scissors-wielding man as she walked to school last week. Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash said Monday an extensive investigation was conducted and police concluded it did not happen.

The sixth-grader, her mother and her younger brother held a news conference at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School on Friday to air the allegation.

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The girl, Khawlah Noman, said she was walking to school with her younger brother when a man came up behind her, pulled off her jacket hood and started cutting the bottom of her hijab. She said she turned around, screamed and the man ran away.

She said the man returned a short time later and continued to cut her hijab from behind before he smiled and ran away. Her mother called on police to treat it as a hate crime.

Public condemnation

The story made international headlines and drew public condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “It’s something that received, quite understandably, a lot of media and social media attention and I know it caused significant concern, as it should,” Pugash said.

Pugash declined to say whether the girl acknowledged the incident didn’t happen. He said police wouldn’t take a step like this unless they were absolutely confident. “It is absolutely unusual,” Pugash said.

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Ryan Bird, a spokesman for the Toronto District School Board, said officials were “very thankful” that the alleged assault did not happen. The school declined further comment.

“I join all Ontarians in being thankful and relieved that this assault did not take place,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said, thanking police for their work in the matter.