Politicians and public unite in condemnation amid rising hate crimes in Canada
Ottawa police have launched an investigation following the display of a swastika next to the Israeli flag at a pro-Palestinian rally on Parliament Hill, a disturbing act that has drawn swift condemnation from Canadian politicians and Jewish community leaders.
The image, first circulated on social media by Howard Fremeth, depicts a sign portraying the Nazi symbol with text that is alleged to equate Zionism with Nazism, sparking outrage and prompting calls to action.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his repugnance on the social media platform X, stressing the fundamental rights of Canadians to peaceful assembly, yet highlighting the inexcusable nature of hate symbols. “The display of a swastika by an individual on Parliament Hill is unacceptable. We cannot tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind,” Trudeau stated.
When we see or hear hateful language and imagery, we must condemn it. The display of a swastika by an individual on Parliament Hill is unacceptable. Canadians have the right to assemble peacefully – but we cannot tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 5, 2023
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre echoed Trudeau’s sentiments, denouncing the open displays of antisemitism witnessed at demonstrations nationwide, including attacks targeting Jewish businesses.
All Canadians should condemn the displays of hate and antisemitism that we continue to see at demonstrations across the country, including the targeting of Jewish businesses and the open display of a swastika on Parliament Hill.
Conservatives will continue to stand against hate.
— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) November 5, 2023
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) also took to X, sharing the contentious image and representing the voice of Jewish Federations across Canada. They, alongside numerous other MPs and politicians like Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman and Defence Minister Bill Blair, unequivocally condemned the symbol’s presence.
The swastika’s appearance was particularly jarring for Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg of Temple Israel Ottawa, who described the symbol as representative of the utmost hatred against the Jewish community. The Rabbi’s reaction underlines a deep-seated concern over rising antisemitism, a sentiment shared by many in the Jewish community.
Ottawa Police Services (OPS) confirmed their awareness of the incident and have urged the public to aid their investigation by providing any relevant information. Despite the wide dissemination of the image, CTV News Ottawa’s footage review of the rally did not capture the contentious sign.
We are aware of this image circulating on social media and it is under investigation. We ask anyone with information about this incident to contact police at 613-236-1222 ext. 7300 #Ottawa #OttNews https://t.co/ihOZu09Imr
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) November 5, 2023
These events occur against a backdrop of escalating tensions and violence in the Middle East, with the war between Israel and Hamas leading to significant casualties on both sides. Canadian cities have seen a series of rallies calling for peace and ceasefire, reflecting the community’s demand for political leaders to represent their voices.
Police Chief Eric Stubbs responded to the community’s heightened anxiety, especially after a bomb threat was directed at the Ottawa Jewish Community School, by increasing patrols around religious institutions and culturally significant places.
The controversy adds to a series of hate-motivated incidents that have been on the rise, particularly those targeting Jewish and Muslim residents. OPS’s concerns are not unfounded, with reported incidents having a profound effect on the targeted communities.
As investigations continue, the outcry serves as a stark reminder of the enduring impact of symbols of hate and the imperative for Canadian society to reject all forms of discrimination and violence.
For anyone with information regarding the incident, contact the Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300.