An 11-year-old girl was assaulted in Toronto Friday by a man who twice tried to cut off her hijab with scissors and then fled, local police said as attacks against Muslims are on the rise in Canada and other western countries due to a surge in conservative Islamophobic politics.
"I felt really scared and confused", she told reporters Friday afternoon, recounting the traumatic incident in a Scarborough neighbourhood near Birchmount Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E.
The incident occurred at about 9 a.m. near Pauline Johnson Public School in Toronto's east end.
At an afternoon press conference, 11-year-old Khawlah said she was walking down the street with her brother when a man came up from behind, removed the hood of her winter coat, and cut into her hijab. But shortly after the first assault, the same man returned and "continued cutting" Noman's headscarf while grinning, before running away.
Mohammed said he then watched on horrified as he saw the man approaching his sister again with the scissors - as he was stuck on the other side of the road waiting for the traffic lights.
In the meantime, police are looking for information about a suspect who is described as a black-haired Asian male in his 20s who was sporting a moustache.
"A day of action will express our recommitment to fight Islamaphobia, and become a rallying call", he said.
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Khawlah - who appeared alongside her mother and her brother - said she is now afraid to walk to school, but was comforted by the support of her school and family. She told police the man struck again when she and her brother were held back from the group at a stoplight.
"Everyone in our province has the right to worship and dress however they choose", she said. He was said to be about 20, almost six feet tall and with a medium build.
Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, tweeted his support for Kwalah on Friday. He wore glasses, a black hoodie and black trousers.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was "shocked and appalled" by the incident.
"My heart goes out to the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion".
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the attack "a cowardly act of hatred". "I want her and her family and her friends and community that that is not what Canada is and that is not who Canadians are".