Canadian Muslims say they fear anti-Muslim hate over Monday’s revelation that a young girl fabricated an internationally anti-Muslim hate crime story.
Canadian police reported that Kwalah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Toronto, fabricated her claims that a man repeatedly attacked her by trying to cut off her hijab in public, sparking concern among the Toronto Muslim community that outrage over the lie could lead to actual discrimination, according to CTV News. Sabrine Azraq, a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), urged people to argue against any anger over the lie.
“This will probably be used as an opportunity to downplay all the times that Muslims come out and speak out against Islamophobia,” Azraq told CTV News.
Amira Elghawaby, a human rights activist, said she also feared potential, legitimate backlash, adding that the Canadian Muslim community is filled with ” a lot of anxiety” over the upcoming anniversary of the Jan. 29 Quebec City mosque massacre.
Both Elghawaby and CCMW member Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui pleaded with the public to take Noman’s age into consideration and refrain from targeting an 11-year-old girl.
Noman’s initial story sparked public outrage over what was thought to be an actual hate crime, gaining international coverage and even a sympathetic comment from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who declared “this is not what Canada is.”
When news broke that the tale was a lie, an outpouring of criticism over the entire incident erupted, with some critics allegedly targeting Noman.
Most of the criticism, however, has been directed at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), whom crime specialists and psychologist Dr. Oren Amitay blame for the severity of Noman’s current predicament.
“I’ve been involved in a number of issues where the school board, acting with the best of intentions but being driven by political correctness and virtue-signalling, has made some wrong calls,” Amitay said, according to CTV News.
“This was definitely the wrong call, and whoever allowed it to go forward should be held accountable in some capacity,” he added.
Amitay said he believes that a progressive school official, motivated by a desire to stand for social justice, was most likely responsible for publicizing Noman’s story without verifying the facts beforehand. Former Toronto police officer Steve Ryan said the press conference held in front of Pauline Johnson Public School with Noman shortly after she made her claim only worsened matters, making it harder for her to admit the truth.
“You’re paraded out in front of all these cameras and what is an 11-year-old to do?” Ryan told CTV News. “Now she’s committed to this story. How does she now go back on that story when you’re facing all these cameras, and you’re facing all these questions?”
School officials deflected any responsibility for the situation, saying that they acted out of compassion just like “many elected leaders.”
“Our motivation for commenting on the issue at the time was out of compassion, care, concern and support,” the TDSB said in a statement, according to CTV News.
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