Toronto police say an incident involving an 11-year-old girl who claimed to have her hijab cut by a stranger on the street, "did not happen."
On Friday, Toronto police said they were investigating a report that a young girl was attacked by a man with scissors, as she was walking to school in the east end of the city.
According to officers at the time, the 11-year-old girl was on her way to Pauline Johnson Public School in Scarborough, when she felt something and turned around to see a man trying to cut her hijab with a pair of scissors. She said she screamed and ran away, but the man returned less than 10 minutes later and tried to cut it once again.
In speaking with CTV News on Monday, Toronto Police Service spokesperson Mark Pugash said investigators reached the conclusion after sifting through the evidence.
“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,” Pugash said.
“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.”
Pugash said police wanted to make the update public as soon as possible.
“That’s why we put that information out as quickly as we could,” he said. “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.”
Some of the social media attention Pugash refers to came from prominent Canadian politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, all of whom condemned the alleged attack.
In a statement sent to CTVNews.ca Monday afternoon, Office of the Prime Minister spokesperson Eleanore Catenaro said, “We are thankful and relieved that this incident did not take place.”
“We have seen an unfortunate pattern of increased hate crimes in past months directed towards religious minorities, particularity towards women,” the PMO statement also said. “We need to take this issue extremely seriously as this pattern is a warning sign of increased intolerance.”
Wynne told The Canadian Press she is glad the alleged incident didn’t happen after all.
"I join all Ontarians in being thankful and relieved that this assault did not take place," she said.
In a statement released to CTV Toronto on Monday, the Toronto District School Board said, “We are very thankful that this assault did not in fact happen. We won’t be commenting further."
Police say their investigation is concluded.
With files from CTV Toronto and The Canadian Press
It is good to know that this event didn't happen.— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 15, 2018
We all must remain vigilant in the fight against hate, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to make sure our city remains an inclusive place.