Toronto police say hijab cutting incident didn’t happen

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Toronto police say hijab cutting incident didn't happen
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemns a hate crime after a child's hijab was cut with a pair of scissors during his closing comments after attending the Liberal cabinet retreat in London, Ont., on Friday, January 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO _ A Toronto police investigation has concluded that an incident reported by an 11-year-old girl who claimed her hijab was cut by a scissors-wielding man as she walked to school did not happen.

The alleged incident, which was reported on Friday, made international headlines and drew public condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario’s premier and Toronto’s mayor.

On Monday, police said their investigation had concluded, with no charges laid and no consequences for the girl.

“These allegations were extremely serious and not surprisingly, they received national and international attention,” police spokesman Mark Pugash said in an interview. “We investigated, we put together a significant amount of evidence and we came to the conclusion that what was described did not happen.”

Pugash said police don’t know how the story escalated and he’s not sure it’s their job to speculate why.

He stressed that it’s “very unusual” for someone to make false allegations of this type and said he hopes it will not discourage others from coming forward.

The Grade 6 student had said she was walking to Pauline Johnson Junior Public School with her younger brother when a man came up behind her, pulled off her jacket hood, and started cutting the bottom of her hijab.

She had said the man ran off but returned a short time later and once again started cutting her hijab from behind. The girl said that when she turned to confront him, the man smiled and ran away.

The Toronto District School Board said at the time that it was offering support to the girl and her family, as well as other students.

On Monday, a spokesman for the board said only that they were “very thankful that this assault did not in fact happen.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed that sentiment and thanked police for their work in the matter. “I join all Ontarians in being thankful and relieved that this assault did not take place,” she said.