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.
An assailant, in two attempts within 10 minutes, cut Khawlah Noman’s hijab using scissors while she was walking to school with her brother, a Toronto police spokesperson said.
‘I felt confused, scared, terrified,’ Noman, who is in 6th grade, told reporters at her school on Friday.
The attack is being investigated as a hate crime, authorities said, according to CNN.
Toronto police are investigating an attack on 11-year-old Khawlah Noman, whose hijab headcovering was repeatedly cut on her way to school on Friday
The hijab is a head covering worn by some Muslim women and girls. It covers the hair but not the face.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message of support to the young girl on Friday.
‘My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto,,’ he wrote.
‘Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Friday, ‘My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto;’ Trudeau is seen here speaking in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, on December 15
Trudeau tweeted a message of support to Noman on Friday, saying, ‘Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated’
The man suspected of perpetrating the attack is believed to stand 5 feet and 7 inches tall, with a thin build, between 20-30 years old.
‘I screamed,’ Noman said. ‘The man just ran away. We followed this crowd of people to be safe. He came again. He continued cutting my hijab again.’
At the time of the attack, he was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt, black pants, brown gloves, and had prescription glasses with black frames on his face, police said.
Police have not taken any suspects into custody following the incident.
Noman reported the incident at her school, after which school officials immediately notified her family and the police, the Toronto District School Board said.
‘This is shocking to learn of this assault. And we’ll be working closely with police to offer any assistance that we can,’ Ryan Bird, a school board spokesperson, told CNN partner CBC.
‘In the meantime, we’re offering support to the impacted student and her family.’
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the attack a ‘cowardly act of hatred’ that did not represent the province.
This news has heightened pressure on Canadian governments to take further action against attacks on Muslims.
Canada is now approaching the first anniversary of a deadly shooting in a Quebec City mosque that killed six people at prayer.
A French-Canadian university student has been charged as the sole suspect.
Noman (left) is seen here speaking to reporters at her school in Toronto on Friday
Noman is pictured, hugging her mother, Saina Samad (right), after talking to media at her school on Friday following being attacked by a man cutting her hijab on her way to class
Last month, a Quebec judge suspended a law banning people from wearing niqabs and other face coverings while giving or receiving public services.
Niqabs are another form of headcovering worn by some Muslim females, like the burka. The Niqabs also covers the face, as does the burka.
Researchers have documented an increase in far-right extremist activity in Canada, much of it targeting Muslims.
A survey conducted last year by Ontario’s Human Rights Commission found that more people reported harboring ‘very negative’ feelings about Muslims than about any other group.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims has called on the federal government to declare January 29, the day of the mosque shooting, a day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia.
The government has not said whether it will do so.
Anna Mehler Paperny contributed to this report.
The attack against Noman (pictured) is being investigated as a hate crime, police said