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Police charge woman, 74, in hijab-pulling incident at Israeli flag raising event

Hayfa Abdelkhaleq waving Palestinian flag as someone walks up behind her and pulls off her hijab. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV News). Hayfa Abdelkhaleq waving Palestinian flag as someone walks up behind her and pulls off her hijab. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV News).
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Ottawa police have laid charges in connection with a hate investigation into a hijab-pulling incident at Ottawa City Hall on May 14.

It happened during a protest against the city's choice to raise the Israeli flag to mark Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's independence day. Video posted to social media showed a woman giving the finger to the camera before pulling down the hijab of a woman waving a Palestinian flag.

The victim, Hayfa Abdelkhaleq, told CTV News Ottawa her dignity was attacked and she no longer feels safe in Ottawa.

Police said Thursday that a 74-year-old woman has been identified and charged with assault, mischief, and harassment by threatening conduct. Police did not name the woman in a news release.

Groups of protesters gathered at Ottawa City Hall on May 14 to both celebrate and condemn the raising of the Israeli flag. Flags of nations with which Canada has diplomatic relations are regularly raised at city hall for national days and other events, but pro-Palestinian groups demanded this year to cancel the Israeli flag raising because of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The city went ahead with the flag raising, but cancelled a planned public ceremony. Jewish groups later organized a private ceremony at city hall that was heavily policed, with metal barricades separating pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Katelyn Wilson

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