An 11-year-old Toronto girl said a scissors-wielding man came up behind her and cut her hijab repeatedly as she walked to school Friday, describing the incident as one that left her terrified and confused. The man fled the scene after the assault.
The suspect has been described by police as Asian and appearing to be in his 20s, standing between five-foot-eight and six-foot, with a medium build, black hair, mustache and eye glasses.
Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird says staff contacted police and the girl's parents shortly after she arrived at school.
Authorities are investigating the incident, which occurred at about 9 am (1400 GMT) near the Pauline Johnson school in Toronto's east side, police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante told AFP. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black trousers.
Ten minutes later, a few hundred metres north at the corner of Birchmount and Bay Mills Blvd., the man creeped up on her again - this time, separated from her brother who had got caught at the stop light, she was alone. She said she was on the sidewalk when she sensed a man behind her and turned to find him holding scissors. "He came again. He continued cutting my hijab again", Noman told reporters, alleging that the person was grinning at her before fleeing again.
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.
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"I'm frustrated and I'm angry, but I do believe in peace in Canada. I am so proud to be a Canadian, and I want to give (the attacker) the same message".
This news has heightened pressure on Canadian governments to take further action against attacks on Muslims. "We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted for simply wearing a hijab", the premier wrote on Twitter.
"She 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", said Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu. "I can't imagine how afraid she must have been", Trudeau said. "Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this can not be tolerated", tweeted Trudeau on Friday.
Premier Kathleen Wynne tweeted about the incident, calling it a "cowardly act of hatred". "This is not who we are".
"I don't know why he did that, it's just not Canada".