Last Friday news of a potential hate crime quickly spread in Canada and on social media. The victim in this case was an 11-year-old girl who claimed a stranger had approached her as she was walking to school and attempted to cut off her hijab with a pair of scissors. Here’s how the story was reported by CBC last week:
An 11-year-old Toronto girl says a man attempted twice to cut off her hijab as she walked to school on Friday morning, and police are now characterizing the attack as a hate crime.
“I felt really scared and confused,” Khawlah Noman, a student at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School in Scarborough, Ont., said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Khawlah said she felt the man behind her while she was walking to school with her younger brother, Mohammad Zakariyya, and turned around and saw him holding scissors. She says she screamed and he ran away, but returned a few minutes later.
The girl gave an on-camera interview describing the attack in detail. Her mother also made a tearful appearance at the press conference saying, “I don’t know why he did that, but it’s just not Canada.” Toronto police announced they were investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Government representatives at all levels released statements condemning the attack. The Mayor of Toronto was “appalled.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about the incident saying, “My heart goes out to the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion. I can’t imagine how afraid she must have been.” Trudeau added, “I want her and her family and her friends and community to know that that is not what Canada is.”
The Prime Minister was more right than he knew. It’s not “what Canada is” because the incident never happened. Today the CBC reports police are saying the assault never happened:
“After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described in the original news release did not happen,” police said in a release.
“The investigation is concluded.”…
“These allegations were extremely serious and not surprisingly, they received national and international attention,” police spokesperson Mark Pugash said in an interview.
“Investigators worked extremely hard since the allegations on Friday. They gathered evidence from a variety of sources,” before concluding the story was untrue, Pugash said, adding that the girl who reported the incident will not face any legal consequences.
It certainly sounds as if the girl who made the report has admitted she made it up, though the story doesn’t quite say that. Was the mother in on it or was she fooled as well? As the clip below points out, anti-Muslim hate crimes are extremely rare in Canada with just 139 incidents in 2016 out of a population of 36 million people. It seems fair to ask where an 11-year-old got the idea that she would be the target of such an attack.