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Fake News! A cautionary tale of rushing to judgement

January 2018

On 13 January, Toronto Police reported an unprovoked attack on Khawlah Noman, a hijab-wearing 11 year old girl who told police she was attacked by an unknown Asian male while walking to her school in Scarborough.  This unknown male reportedly cut her hijab with a pair of scissors twice and ran off.

Norman and her family were trotted out in front of the media by the Toronto District School Board who helped the story spread faster than a hurricane.  Political leaders from all levels of government were quick to condemn this attack as an anti-Muslim hate crime.

On 15 January, Toronto Police issued the following brief statement. “After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described did not happen.  Our investigation is concluded and we don’t expect anything further.”

Hearing this incident never happened was like a punch to the gut.  I was willing to believe that maybe at worst it was a case of someone suffering from mental illness. I was really uneasy about calling it a “hate-crime” without knowing who did it and any motivations they may have had, but I was willing to be corrected.

I’m usually very cynical about things but given that the “victim” said the “suspect” was smiling at her while cutting her hijab (and didn’t otherwise threaten or harm her), mental illness seemed a logical assessment.  I did breath a sigh of relief that the “suspect” was reported to be Asian; that “At least it wasn’t a white guy,” because we all know how racist and bigoted white people are, especially if you’re a white, Christian, straight male, who identifies as a male and not one of the 57 genders you can pick from (if your sarcasm detector is not going off right now, you need to get out more).

Then I hear it was COMPLETELY false!

Khawlah Noman and her family owe everyone an explanation as to why she would make such a toxic accusation, when it never happened.

I also think that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Torry and the Toronto District School Board all owe us an explanation and apology for throwing Canadians under the bus with their rush to judgement, especially when it suits a political agenda.

This has now become an international incident and will, among other things, fuel further backlash against fake news.

On the issue that she claimed that it was an “Asian” man who attacked her, many have joked (probably quite accurately), that she was coached to say that it was a “Caucasian” man, but a language barrier may have caused her to forget the “C-A-U-C” part and just say “Asian.” 

Source:  http://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/furey-hijab-hoax-girl-family-owe-canadians-an-apology

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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