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Toronto police say hijab-cutting incident didn’t happen

TORONTO — Toronto police are disputing an 11-year-old girl's claim that her hijab was cut by a scissors-wielding man as she walked to school last week.

Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash said Monday an extensive investigation was conducted and police concluded it did not happen.

The sixth-grader, her mother and her younger brother held a news conference at her school on Friday and Khawlah Noman said she was walking to school with her younger brother when a man came up behind her, pulled off her jacket hood and started cutting the bottom of her hijab. She said she turned around, screamed and the man ran away.

She also said the man returned a short time later and continued to cut her hijab from behind before he smiled and ran away.

Image: Khawlah Noman, 11, speaks to reporters with her mother at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School, after she told police that a man cut her hijab with scissors in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Jan. 12, 2018.
Khawlah Noman, 11, speaks to reporters with her mother at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School, after she told police that a man cut her hijab with scissors in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Jan. 12, 2018. Chris Helgren / Reuters

Her mother called on police to treat it as a hate crime.

The story made international headlines and drew public condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"It's something that received, quite understandably, a lot of media and social media attention and I know it caused significant concern, as it should," Pugash said.

Pugash declined to say whether the girl acknowledged it didn't happen. He said police wouldn't take a step like this unless they were absolutely confident.

"It is absolutely unusual," Pugash said.

Ryan Bird, a spokesman for the Toronto District School Board, said officials are "very thankful" that the alleged assault did not in fact happen.

The school declined further comment.