UPDATE: 11-year-old girl whose hijab was cut on way to school feels 'confused, terrified'
An 11-year-old Toronto girl who says she was attacked by a man who cut her hijab with a pair of scissors says she’s now afraid to walk to school again.
Police say that they are searching for a man they say cut Khawlah Noman’s hijab as she walked to school on Friday morning.
The girl was on her way to Pauline Johnson Public School near near Sheppard Ave E and Birchmount Rd, when she felt something and turned around to see a man trying to cut her hijab with a pair of scissors. She screamed and ran away, but the man returned less than 10 minutes later and tried to cut it once again.
Police say the Grade 6 student was not injured, but her light blue hijab had a cut 12" long in it.
“It’s startling, it’s disturbing, it’s nerve wracking,” Toronto Police spokesperson const. Jennifer Sidhu told reporters on Friday. “Young kids coming to school shouldn't have to face this.”
“This girl was brave enough to confront the man, look at the man and make a noise, which is very good for her to realize this is wrong.”
Noman told reporters gathered at the school on Friday afternoon, that she is now afraid to walk to class.
“I'm actually really scared, but I have family to support me,” she said. “This is terrible and I do not like it.”
Police describe the suspect as an Asian man, 20 to 30 years old, standing 5'7" to 5'8" with a thin build, black hair with straight bangs to his eyebrows, and a thin moustache. He was wearing black glasses, a black hoodie with the hood up, brown gloves and black pants.
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed school staff contacted police and the girl’s family once they heard what had happened.
“We are shocked to learn of this assault and we will be working closely with police to offer any assistance that we can,” Bird said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are offering supports to the impacted student and her family.”
Noman’s mother Saima Samad also talked to reporters at the school.
“I’m just so happy she’s safe,” Samad said fighting back tears as she explained that, in her 25 years living in Canada, she had never experienced such an incident.
“It’s just not Canada,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a Canadian. I feel safe in this community and it’s just not right.”
Sidhu says police are not ruling out treating the incident as a hate crime, but need more information first. Investigators are trying to track down surveillance images from the area.
Noman's story caught the ear of the Prime Minister.
"I can't imagine how afraid she must have been," Justin Trudeau said Friday afternoon speaking in London, Ont. "I want her and her family and her friends and community to know that that is not what Canada is and that is not who Canadians are."
Premier Kathleen Wynne also condemned the “cowardly act of hatred”.
This is a cowardly act of hatred, and it has no place in Ontario. This does not represent who we are. We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab.— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) January 12, 2018
Toronto Mayor John Tory expressed his shock with what he called an “act of hatred.”
I am shocked and appalled to learn a student wearing a hijab was assaulted on the way to school this morning in Scarborough. pic.twitter.com/E4xQZlmnkJ— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 12, 2018
Anyone with information is asked to call police in contact Crime Stoppers.
with files from CTV News, Siobhan Morris, CP24, and The Canadian Press