News media across Canada reported the case of an 11-year-old girl who was on her way to school on Jan. 12, 2018 when a man approached her with a pair of scissors and cut her hijab. This was said to have occurred in Scarborough, one of the most diverse and multicultural districts of the Greater Toronto Area.
“I felt really scared and confused,” the girl told CBC. She said she sensed the man behind her and screamed. She said she ran away but he returned a few moments later. “He continued cutting my hijab again,” before smiling and running away, she said.
Young attacker sought by police
Going on the girl’s description, police were looking for a suspect but further investigation suggested there was none.
Hate crimes up
There are over one million Muslims living in Canada and this report may have added to the unease some already feel. Government statistics suggest that hate crimes targeting Muslims more than tripled between 2012 and 2015 to a total of 159. Most horrifying was the attack on a mosque in Quebec City one year ago in which a gunman shot and killed six men. He faces several charges including murder.
While there are Canadians who believe Muslims should adopt Canadian values and traditions, there are many others who staunchly defend the rights of all immigrants to follow their own traditional ways. There are also people who have come forward to help repair some of the vandalism done to mosques and to other wise offer support to the Muslim community.
‘This is not what Canada is,’ says prime minister
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the incident. His expressed his support for the young girl and said he hoped she understood that “this is not what Canada is, and that is not what Canadians are…We are a country of openness and welcome, and not a country where that is in any way acceptable… We are better than this.”