Schoolgirl's hijab cut in 'cowardly act of hatred'

Saima Samad

Noman's mother Saima Samad was in tears as she described rushing to the school and hugging her daughter

Smiling, he allegedly tried again to cut off her hijab, before fleeing.

Authorities are investigating the incident, which occurred at about 9am (2pm GMT) near the Pauline Johnson school in Toronto's east side, police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante told AFP. The man fled the scene after the assault.

The incident happened Friday morning near Pauline Johnson Junior Public School in Scarborough, police confirmed.

Officers describe the suspect as an Asian man in his 20s with a medium build. He has black hair, a moustache, and was wearing glasses, a black hoodie, and black trousers. The man used scissors with a blue handle, and was wearing brown gloves, the girl told reporters.

An 11-year-old Muslim girl who told police she was attacked twice by a man who snuck up behind her and cut her hijab while she walked to school, told reporters the man smiled at her before running away. She said she was on the sidewalk when she sensed a man behind her and turned to find him holding scissors.

Her brother told reporters that he was frightened, and anxious his sister would be hurt. "I'm so glad that she's safe and I'm safe".

Meanwhile, Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird told CBC that they are working closely with the police and are offering support to Noman and her family. The blue hijab is now with police as evidence.

"I saw my sister and she was frightened and I was more frightened because I didn't know if she was injured or if he was going to hurt her", Mohammad Zakariya said.

"The girl was fearless 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", she said.

"What you're doing is very wrong, you should stop doing this".

"I feel confused, scared and terrified".

Speaking at the podium, the girl's emotional mother told reporters she was "happy that she's safe", and said the community has been supportive of her daughter.

She added that she has been in Canada for 25 years and this is the first incident of its kind that she can remember.

"I'm frustrated and I'm angry, but I do believe in peace in Canada".

The school serves almost 300 kindergarten to grade six students "of diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds", according to the local school board.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the attack a "cowardly act of hatred" in a tweet posted Friday.

"This does not represent who we are".

Toronto Mayor John Tory also expressed his shock with what he called an "act of hatred".

Anyone with information about the investigation should contact 42 Division at 416-808-4200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).

"My heart goes out to the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion".

Hate crimes targeting Muslims doubled between 2012 and 2014 across Canada, and in January past year six Muslim men were killed in an attack on a Quebec City mosque.

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