US & Canada

Arrest made in Ottawa hate crime attacks

Swastika signs on the front doors of Ottawa's Machzikei Hadas Synagogue Image copyright Andrew Foote/CBC
Image caption Swastikas signs were sprayed on the front doors of Ottawa's Machzikei Hadas Synagogue

Ottawa police have arrested a teenager in relation to hate graffiti in Canada's capital last week.

The young man is facing several charges, including uttering threats of a dangerous weapon and mischief to religious buildings.

Religious sites in Ottawa have been targeted by a recent spate of hate graffiti crimes.

Three Jewish centres, a mosque and a church were daubed with swastikas and other racist graffiti.

As well as the mosque and synagogues, the church targeted has a majority black congregation.

Police could not immediately confirm on Monday if the teenager was linked to one, some, or all of the incidents reported across the city.

The teenager was arrested on Saturday, the same day a solidarity event took place at an Ottawa synagogue.

'Not representative'

The multi-faith solidarity event at the Machzikei Hadas Synagogue, one of the sites defaced, was attended by some 600 people, including Ontario's premier and city officials.

Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau announced the arrest at the event and said several investigators are assigned to look into the incidents. That investigation is ongoing.

Ahead of the gathering, local councillor Jeff Leiper said in a statement that "whether a crime by a single person or not, we are all disturbed by these incidents.

"They are not representative of the hearts of Ottawa residents, our values, our tolerance, our generosity."

Meanwhile, MP Anita Vandenbeld wrote in a Facebook post: "I will never be silent in the face of hatred and intolerance, nor will our government.

"Diversity is our greatest strength, it enriches our lives, it strengthens our society, and it unites us as a country. It is our most cherished value."

Since Donald Trump was elected US president on 8 November, a number of hate crimes have been reported across the US.

But incidents have also been reported at the same time in Canada, including a racist rant caught on camera, white supremacist posters and anti-Semitic graffiti.

Statistics show attacks against Canadian Muslims more than doubled between 2012-14.

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