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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Canada police search for attacker who cut 11-year-old girl's hijab

The assailant, in two attempts within 10 minutes, cut the girl's head covering using scissors while she was walking to school with her brother on Friday

Khawlah Noman, 11, speaks to reporters with her mother at the Pauline Johnson Junior Public School in Toronto on January 12, 2018. Chris Helgren / Reuters
Khawlah Noman, 11, speaks to reporters with her mother at the Pauline Johnson Junior Public School in Toronto on January 12, 2018. Chris Helgren / Reuters

Toronto police are investigating an attack on an 11-year-old girl whose hijab was repeatedly cut on her way to school, heightening pressure on Canadian governments to take further action against attacks on Muslims.

The attacker, in two attempts within 10 minutes, cut the girl's head covering using scissors while she was walking to school with her brother on Friday, a Toronto police spokeswoman said.

"I felt confused, scared, terrified," said Khawlah Noman, who is in Grade 6.

"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."

The Toronto district school board said it was "shocked" to hear about the assault which Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne called a "cowardly act of hatred" that did not represent the province. Police did not have anyone in custody.

The attack comes as Canada approaches the first anniversary of a deadly shooting in a Quebec City mosque that killed six people at prayer. A French-Canadian university student has been charged as the sole suspect.

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Read more:

Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada on the rise

Quebec's Muslim community to have their own cemetery, mayor says

Conservative radio hosts under fire after Quebec mosque attack

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Last month, a Quebec judge suspended a law banning people from wearing niqabs and other face coverings while giving or receiving public services.

Researchers have documented an increase in far-right extremist activity in Canada, much of it targeting Muslims.

A survey conducted last year by Ontario's Human Rights Commission found that more people reported harbouring "very negative" feelings about Muslims than about any other group.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has called on the federal government to declare January 29, the day of the mosque shooting, a day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia. The government has not said whether it will do so.

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