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Canada

Toronto police say hijab-cutting incident, decried by Trudeau, never happened

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 9:42am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 9:42am

Toronto police say that a purported attack on an 11-year-old girl, in which she claimed her hijab was cut by a scissors-wielding man, never happened and the case has been closed.

The supposed incident was widely decried, including by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash said Monday an extensive investigation was conducted and police concluded it did not occur.

The sixth-grader, her mother and her younger brother held a news conference at her school on Friday. 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 also 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.

The story made international headlines and drew public condemnation.

“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 it didn’t happen. He said police wouldn’t take a step like this unless they were absolutely confident.

“It is absolutely unusual,” Pugash said.

Ryan Bird, a spokesman for the Toronto District School Board, said officials are “very thankful” that the alleged assault did not in fact happen.

The school declined further comment.