An incident in Canada involving a young girl who claimed her hijab was cut by a stranger on the street was completely fabricated, police said.
On Monday, Jan. 15, Toronto Police said that the episode with the 11-year-old girl “did not happen.”
“We had, as everyone knows, allegations of an extremely serious crime on Friday which we investigated — we had a team of investigators who put together a significant amount of evidence and they came to the conclusion that the events that were alleged did not happen,” Toronto Police Service spokesperson Mark Pugash told CTV News.
The incident that was first reported to police on Friday, Jan. 12, gained international attention. Prime minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter at the time and condemned the attack, calling it “cowardly.”
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
“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,” Trudeau tweeted last Friday. The tweet has not been deleted, as of writing.
Pugash told CTV News that they came to the conclusion after a thorough investigation.
“We have spoken with (the girl), we have spoken to all the people the public would expect us to speak to in the course of a thorough investigation, and when we put all of that together — we looked at it very closely — and that was the conclusion that we came to.”
The girl publicly spoke to reporters last week, describing the details of the “attack.” Her mother also called on police to treat the incident as a hate crime, NBC News reported.
Police spokesman Pugash said he wanted to alert the public to the update as soon as possible.
“That’s why we put that information out as quickly as we could,” he told CTV News. “It… quite understandably reached an enormous amount of media and social media attention and we thought it was important that get our officers’ determination out as soon as we could so that people could have an accurate understanding of something that caused significant concern.”
In a statement sent to CTV News on Monday, Office of the Prime Minister spokesperson Eleanore Catenaro said, “We are thankful and relieved that this incident did not take place.”
Mayor of Toronto also weighed in on Monday, among others.
Any time there are reports or allegations of hate or intolerance in our city, you will hear me speak out.
In this case, Toronto Police have investigated and determined that the events described did not happen.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 15, 2018
Police said that the investigation is now fully concluded.