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Police investigating alleged hate crime after girl with hijab attacked

Last Updated Jan 15, 2018 at 11:23 am EDT

File photo of a Toronto police cruiser. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Update on Jan. 15:

Toronto police say an 11-year-old girl’s report of having her hijab cut by a scissors-wielding man as she walked to school last week did not happen.

We have removed the names of the alleged victim and her family members.

Toronto police are investigatingĀ an alleged hate crime after a man reportedly cut a hijab off an 11-year-old girl.

It happened near Pauline Johnson Public School near Warden Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East in Scarborough on Friday morning.

The Grade 6 student was on her way to school when the man allegedly came up to her, pulled off her hood and used scissors to cut off her hijab. Police said she was attacked by the same man a second time about 10 minutes later. She was not injured.

The suspect fled before officers arrived. Police say he is Asian, 20 to 30 years old, about five-foot-seven to five-foot-eight with a thin build, black hair with straight bangs down to his eyebrows and a thin moustache. He was last seen wearing black prescription glasses, a black sweater with the hood up, black pants and brown gloves.

“Me and my brother were walking together to school and sadly someone assaulted me by cutting my hijab two times,” the girl told reporters at a news conference. “I felt really scared and confused.”

The girl said she was walking on Birchmount Road when she noticed a man behind her cutting her hijab. She screamed, crossed the street and followed the crowd to be safe.

The man approached her again and continued to cut off her hijab. He then smiled and ran away. When the girl got to school, she told her principal what happened.

She said the man cut 12 inches off her hijab and her friend gave her a new one to wear.

Her mother was in tears while describing her fear over her daughter’s assault.

‘”I was just very sad,” she said. “I’m just so happy she’s safe.”

“We are shocked to learn of this assault and we will be working closely with police to offer any assistance that we can,” Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are offering supports to the impacted student and her family.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne tweeted about the incident, calling it a “cowardly act of hatred.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack, saying he hopes the girl knows that not all Canadians are like her attacker.

“I want her and her family and her friends and community to know that that is not what Canada is, that is not who Canadians are,” he said at the conclusion of a Liberal caucus retreat in London, Ont.

Opposition leader Andrew Scheer called the incident “despicable.”

“This type of thing is just despicable and has no place in Canadian society,” he said following a meeting of the Mississauga, Ontario Board of Trade. “I certainly hope that the Toronto police services are able to track down the person who committed this violent act.”