A Toronto police spokeswoman announced on Friday that an assailant had used scissors to cut six-grader Khawlah Noman’s hijab in two attempts within 10 minutes while she was walking to school with her brother earlier in the day.
“I felt confused, scared, terrified,” Noman told reporters at her school on Friday. “I screamed. The man just ran away. We followed this crowd of people to be safe. He came again. He continued cutting my hijab again.”
Police have not made an arrest in the case yet.
The alarming incident has reportedly increased pressure on the Canadian government to adopt further measures against persisting assaults on Muslims and Islamic places of worship across the North American country.
The Toronto district school board also expressed “shock” over the Friday incident, which was further described by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as a “cowardly act of hatred” that did not represent the province.
The incident happened over a month after a judge in Quebec Province suspended a newly-passed provincial law banning the wearing of face veil or niqab by Muslim women while giving or receiving public services.
It also came before the first anniversary of a deadly shooting at a mosque in Quebec City that killed six Muslim worshipers during a daily prayer. A French-Canadian college student was charged as the lone suspect in the bloody incident.
Meanwhile, local researchers have documented a sharp rise in far-right extremist activity across Canada, much of it targeting the country’s Muslim population.
Moreover, a survey carried out last year by Ontario’s Human Rights Commission further found that more people reported harboring “very negative” feelings about Muslims than about any other group.
A rise in Islamophobic incidents across the US, Canada, and Western Europe has been widely attributed to hateful rhetoric against Muslims by US President Donald Trump, as well as by other politicians following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. Fifteen out of the 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi Arabian nationals.