Authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime
"My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says
Update: Toronto Police Services issued an update January 15 to say that, after an investigation, they have determined the incident did not occur. Read the update here.
Khawlah Noman was walking to her Toronto school when a man suddenly appeared behind her and cut her hijab, police said.
“I felt really scared and confused,” the 11-year-old girl said at a news conference Friday.
The man approached the child from behind Friday morning as she made her way to school with her younger brother. He pulled the hood off the girl’s jacket and cut her hijab with a pair of scissors, police said.
Khawlah screamed and the man ran away, but he returned a few minutes later to assault her again, she said.
Authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime. It happened in a Toronto neighborhood known for its diversity.
“My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday on Twitter. “Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.”
Police described the suspect as 5 feet 7 inches with a thin build who was between the ages of 20 to 30. He was wearing black prescription glasses, a black hooded sweater, black pants and brown gloves, police said.
School officials notified police and Khawlah’s family immediately after the girl reported the incident to them, according to the Toronto District School Board.
“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 spokesman, told CNN partner CBC. “In the meantime, we’re offering support to the impacted student and her family.”
CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.