Sunday, January 17

Westmount | Swastikas on synagogue, Jewish community “shocked”

A 28-year-old man was arrested Wednesday afternoon by Montreal police for mischief after affixing swastikas to an Orthodox synagogue in Westmount. He was met by investigators during the day. The authorities intend to recommend a psychological assessment.

Henri Ouellette-Vézina
Henri Ouellette-Vézina

It was around 1:30 p.m. that the agents of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) were first called to intervene at the Shaar Hashomayim Congregation, located on Kensington Avenue. Upon arrival, they located a person “who was doing mischief in windows and the door” by painting “swastikas”.

“Security and people at the synagogue spotted him, came out and checked him. The person did not seem aggressive. She remained calm until her arrest, ”testified a spokesperson for the police force, Raphaël Bergeron.

According to our information, the young man, whose identity has not been revealed, made at least incoherent comments during his arrest. He was transported to the SPVM Operational Center to be met by investigators from the Hate Crimes Section.

“From our side, we will strongly recommend a psychological assessment in this specific case,” continued Mr. Bergeron. For now, the suspect will remain in detention until his appearance, scheduled for Thursday at the Montreal courthouse. The Montreal police did not deplore any violent incident that would be related to this event.

“Alarmed” organizations

On social networks, the Consultative Center for Jewish and Israeli Relations-Quebec (CIJA-Quebec) indicated that “the Jewish community is shocked by today’s attack on Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount”. “This attack targets the entire community and all those who adhere to the principles of civility and tolerance,” he said.

Following other violent anti-Semitic attacks, this incident reminds us of the dangerous role social media continues to play in spreading hatred and provoking violence.

CIJA-Québec, on its Twitter account

The organization also calls on the government and users of social media to “redouble their efforts to monitor and curb this spread of anti-Semitism and sectarianism online.” “We are grateful to synagogue security and the police for their quick response,” he said.

In a statement, Jewish rights group B’nai Brith Canada also said it was “outraged and alarmed by a serious act of anti-Semitism.” “What is particularly worrying is the fact that a red gasoline canister was spotted near the doors where he proceeded to desecrate it”, wrote the organization, specifying nevertheless that no one was ” physically injured ”.

“This incident is another shocking reminder of the constant need for vigilance to protect our Jewish community institutions,” insisted B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn. Anti-Semitism can lift its ugly head anywhere and anytime, and we must always do our part to combat it when it does. “Harvey Levine, the Quebec director of the defense group, for his part promised that he” will follow up with the Hate Crimes Section (of the SPVM) and the people affected, in order to do everything we can so that justice be done in this case ”.

Last May, another Montreal synagogue, that of the Sephardic Congregation Kol Yehouda, was vandalized after it ceased its activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ritual objects had been thrown on the ground and in the toilets, in particular.

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