At just 11 years old Khawlah Noman was so poised, calm and brave.
So was her little brother Mohammad Zakariyya, who’s just ten.
Here they were standing in front of the national media describing an alleged hate crime in Scarborough that shocked the country.
Needless to say you could hear a pin drop as the sixth grader Khawlah explained the horror of a male sneaking up on her and trying to cut her blue hijab with a pair of scissors with blue handles.
“This morning me and my brother were walking together to school and sadly someone assaulted me by cutting my hijab two times,” she said in a soft voice but with steady resolve. “I felt really scared and confused because I didn’t feel comfortable that people were doing this.”
They were walking northbound on Birchmount Ave. toward Pauline Johnson Junior Public School — north of Sheppard Ave. E..
“First I felt the man and turned around and saw him with the scissors and he ran away,” she said.
Khawlah said she and her brother “followed this crowd of people to be safe.”
But the alleged attack was not over.
Ten minutes later, a few hundred metres north at the corner of Birchmount and Bay Mills Blvd., the man creeped up on her again — this time, separated from her brother who had got caught at the stop light, she was alone.
“He continued cutting my hijab again,” said Khawlah. “He smiled and ran away.”
Her reaction was “what you’re doing is very wrong, you should stop doing this. I am a kid.”
Fifth grader Mohammad said he saw a man with “scissors” and is “so glad that she’s safe and I’m safe.”
Added Khawlah: “We both walked to school together and we both told my principal.”
The principal called Toronto Police, who call this a hate crime investigation.
Calling the incident “startling and disturbing,” Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu said “young people going to school should not have to go through this.”
Police describe the suspect as “Asian, 20 to 30 years old, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8, thin build, black hair with straight bangs to the eyebrows, thin moustache, black prescription glasses. He was wearing a black hooded sweater with the hood up, black pants, brown gloves.”
Police are hoping to track down security and dash cam cameras or hear from witnesses. The investigation is on. So are the politics.
“This is a cowardly act of hatred, and it has no place in Ontario,” tweeted Premier Kathleen Wynne. “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.”
Mayor Tory added: “I am shocked and appalled to learn a student wearing a hijab was assaulted on the way to school…no child should ever be afraid walking to school in Toronto because of what they are wearing.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “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.”
In her 20 years as a cop, Sidhu said she had never heard of somebody trying to cut a girl’s Hijab before. It was a whole day of firsts.
Never in my 30 years have I seen a news conference featuring two child victims of a crime addressing the media — all organized by the normally privacy-sensitive Toronto District School Board.
And you don’t typically see the mayor, premier and prime minister all reacting to a crime.
The outrage that two young, innocent, Canadian kids could face such an ugly attack over a hijab clearly struck a nerve. That they were so courageous to tell their story captured the hearts of so many.
Time will tell how this story will resolve itself but on the way out of the school Khawlah told Sun photographer Stan Behal what I thought captured the spirit of the day.
“We all should have peace and love in our hearts.”
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies