The girl was reportedly on her way to school when the man came up to her and used scissors to cut off her hijab. "I'm a kid", the girl said to her attacker.
The incident occurred at about 9 a.m. near Pauline Johnson Public School in Toronto's east end. She said she was on the sidewalk when she sensed a man behind her and turned to find him holding scissors. She says she screamed and he ran away, but returned a few minutes later.
The man approached her again and continued to cut off her hijab.
"We don't know if this was a hate crime or not yet", said Const. David Hopkinson of the Toronto Police Service.More news: What's open, what's closed on Martin Luther King Day
The suspect has been described by police as Asian and appearing to be in his 20s, standing between five-foot-eight and six-foot, with a medium build, black hair, mustache and eye glasses.
"I saw my sister and she was frightened and I was more frightened because I didn't know if she was injured or if he was going to hurt her", Mohammad Zakariya said. He was last seen wearing black prescription glasses, a black sweater with the hood up, black trousers and brown gloves.
"My heart goes out the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion", Trudeau told reporters in London, Ont.
Speaking at the podium, the girl's emotional mother told reporters she was "happy that she's safe", and said the community has been supportive of her daughter. "I am so proud to be a Canadian, and I feel so safe in this community". And we'll be working closely with police to offer any assistance that we can.More news: Nadal, Federer seeded 1st and 2nd for Australian Open
In early December 2016, a female Muslim Baruch College student claimed several men shouting "Donald Trump!" attempted to tear off her hijab on a New York City subway train; she later admitted to making it up. After the attack, she crossed to the other side of the road and joined a group of children, she said. "In the meantime, we are offering supports to the impacted student and her family".
"I'm frustrated and I'm angry but I do believe in peace in Canada", Samad said. "This is not who we are". "We must stand firm in our support of this young girl who was assaulted simply for wearing a hijab".
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory also released statements condemning the attack.
Anyone with information about the investigation should contact 42 Division at 416-808-4200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).More news: Premarket: Stocks recover as bond jitters retreat, euro hits 3-year high
"This is a cowardly act of hatred". There has been a surge in Islamophobic attacks in the country and mosques have been targeted.
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