An eleven-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, Canada, made international headlines last week after she claimed a man with scissors sneaked up on her and tried to cut her hijab off while she was walking to school. The Toronto Police Service requested assistance from the public to identify the suspect but on Monday called the search off.
After a “detailed investigation,” police announced, “the events described in the original news release did not happen.” They said the case was now closed.
11-year old #Hijabi girl Khawlah Noman pulls of a stunt that fooled PM @JustinTrudeau, Ontario Premier @Kathleen_Wynne and Toronto Mayor @JohnTory. @TorontoPolice now say the girl’s ‘Hijab attack’ story was a hoax; it never happened | @ TheTorontoSun https://t.co/eWU25Lbe7o pic.twitter.com/xLlAXefbch
— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) January 15, 2018
Khawlah Noman made the allegations during an emotional press conference with her family and the Toronto District School Board on Friday, sparking a national outcry. The girl said she felt “really scared and confused,” and that she was afraid to go back to school.
CNN reported the alleged incident on Friday as if it was beyond dispute. “The man approached the child from behind Friday morning as she made her way to school with her younger brother,” they wrote. “He pulled the hood off the girl’s jacket and cut her hijab with a pair of scissors, police said.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasted little time condemning the alleged attack on Twitter:
My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto. Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 12, 2018
Trudeau also made a statement on Saturday expressing sympathy for Noman, who he said was “attacked seemingly for her religion.”
The leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne also put out a hasty statement on Twitter:
This is a cowardly act of hatred, and it has no place in Ontario. This does not represent who we are. We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab.
— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) January 12, 2018
Toronto Mayor John Tory also made a fool of himself on Twitter:
I am shocked and appalled to learn a student wearing a hijab was assaulted on the way to school this morning in Scarborough. pic.twitter.com/E4xQZlmnkJ
— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 12, 2018
There was good reason to be “shocked and appalled.” Khawlah made the whole thing up.
As always with these types of allegations, it’s best to wait until a police investigation has been concluded before anyone jumps to conclusions and makes statements they later regret.
“Investigators were right on it and gathered evidence, interviews and video surveillance. The only conclusion was that it didn’t happen,” police spokesman Mark Pugash told reporters Monday.
Although the investigation involved “significant police hours,” Pugash said there would be no charges for filing a false police report.
“I won’t speculate how it arose or who was involved, but the investigation has concluded,” Pugash said.
Meanwhile, unlike PM Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, Australian columnist Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) actually made a good point on Twitter:
Funny how the world’s media isn’t as interested in an alleged anti-Semitic attack that actually left a schoolgirl injured…https://t.co/XhmZ0uzeto
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) January 15, 2018