FUREY: Hijab hoax girl, family owe Canadians an apology

Hard to disagree, although more information on the back story on why Noman pulled that stunt would be helpful:

It was the assault that pulled on the heartstrings of a nation.

Khawlah Noman’s story of being attacked not once but twice by a man in his 20s who used scissors to cut her hijab garnered responses from coast-to-coast.

The media seized upon this troubling tale as camera crews rushed to her Scarborough school for a press conference several hours after the Friday morning assault happened.

Noman was flanked by her young brother, who witnessed the despicable act, and her mother – who was in tears.

The public sentiments were like a deluge: they came fast and they came strong. Toronto Mayor John Tory. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They all issued statements. “Canada is an open and welcoming country,” posted Trudeau, “and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.”

The Toronto Sun featured the story on the front page. My colleague Lorrie Goldstein posted the following sentiment that I agreed with and retweeted: “One can only imagine how terrified this innocent child must have been to have been attacked twice by the same man in the space of a few minutes. Appalling.”

I thought at the time that everyone falling over themselves was a bit too much. The suspect had not yet been found. Maybe things weren’t quite as they were portrayed. And, besides, people are unfortunately assaulted daily in this country and the overly political response to this one implied that assaulting a girl in a hijab was somehow worse and more deserving of censure than assaulting one without.

But even if the response was overkill, the basic idea of a girl being randomly attacked while walking to school was still worthy of our condemnation. It’s not like it would turn out to be a hoax. Right? Wrong.

On Monday, Toronto Police issued the following brief statement. “After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described did not happen,” it read. “Our investigation is concluded and we don’t expect anything further.”

It did not happen. It was a hoax. Well then that statement just doesn’t cut it. While police may not be expecting anything further, Canadians certainly will be.

The outpouring of public support this girl received shows Canadians are compassionate people. They take allegations of this type of intolerance seriously. Yet their generosity was abused.

There are too many questions remaining for the cops to leave it like this. Last August, police considered charging a man in Durham Region for misleading them about a false Islamophobia complaint. Section 140 of the Criminal Code covers public mischief. It says that “making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed and offence” could see you locked up for up to five years. They even arrested a homeless man in the case, only to later find the complainant’s story didn’t add up.

Khawlah Noman, 11, is accompanied by her brother Mohammad Zakarijja and their mom Saima Samad as she recalls a man slicing her hijab as she and her sibling walked to Pauline Johnson Public School in Scarborough on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Now Khawlah Noman is an 11-year-old, so would not be charged. But what did her mother know? Watching the girl’s video statement again, the girl’s words look well-prepared. It must be asked, given what we now know: Was she coached?

“Heartwarming note: A friend gave her another hijab to wear,” CBC reporter Ali Chiasson tweeted from the press conference. “The one she was wearing with the 12 inch gash is with police as evidence.”

What does this element now mean? Did someone fabricate evidence? That would make it so much worse.

One sad outcome of this story is that decent, fair-minded Canadians whose hearts went out to this girl may look at the next such attack with suspicion. And that one could be real.

The family, the police and the school board owe us an explanation. And Khawlah Noman and her family owe Canada an apology.

via FUREY: Hijab hoax girl, family owe Canadians an apology | Toronto Sun

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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