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Jewish community centre in C.D.N.-N.D.G. targeted by firebomb

Montreal Gazette

November 27, 2023

Jewish community centre in C.D.N.-N.D.G. targeted by firebomb | Montreal Gazette

Montreal is dealing with an unprecedented number of hate incidents targeting the Muslim and Jewish communities, the city’s police chief said Monday.

In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Montreal police have handled more reported hate incidents targeting the two communities than all reports of hate handled last year.
Since that date, there have been 324 reported hate incidents targeting Muslims and Jews, and there are 118 investigations open. By comparison, there were 50 hate crimes and 21 incidents targeting people based on their religion in 2022, along with 118 hate crimes and 35 incidents targeting people based on their ethnic or national origin.Speaking to reporters at city hall Monday afternoon, Montreal police Chief Fady Dagher said since Oct. 7, the force has logged $1.7 million in overtime hours due to increased presence at targeted institutions and investigations, a sum he says is yielding results.

“We had between 60 and 65 events per week in the last few weeks, but in the last week, we increased our visibility even more, and it dropped to 12 events, so we will continue to be present,” Dagher said.

Among the incidents: shooters fired bullets at two schools in Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, one of which had two attacks. A community centre and synagogue were firebombed in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Some Muslim women have reported being harassed both verbally and physically while wearing hijabs.

Dagher said that the Jewish and Muslim communities should not change their behaviours because of fear.

However, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Some schools are blacking out fences of schoolyards so people can’t see inside. Others have changed drop-off and pickup protocol, while some have cancelled outdoor recess because schoolyards can be seen as targets if they face the street. Mosques and synagogues have hired private security agents who are present whenever there are people inside the buildings.

On Sunday night, Rabbi Saul Emanuel’s Jewish Community Council hosted representatives from institutions concerned about recent firebombings, to help them beef up their security and guide them through the process of getting government aid. Among those present were local MPs Anthony Housefather and Rachel Bendayan.

“We had 60 people from different institutions here last night, and we were presenting changes to the security infrastructure program,” Emanuel said Monday. “We opened a hotline and have already gotten calls so people can get help to navigate the government web page.”

Hours afterwards, Emanuel was awoken because the centre had been attacked with a Molotov cocktail. Emanuel was called at 12:35 a.m. Monday when the fire alarm was triggered.

The fire department arrived within two minutes and quelled the blaze. The Montreal police arson squad will investigate. The fire caused damage to the glass door and left burn marks inside the entranceway of the building on Décarie Blvd. near Vézina St.

“Obviously, we condemn these acts of cowardly intimidation tactics and it’s not going to stop us from doing the good that we do for the love of the community,” said Emanuel, the executive director of the centre.