Suspect charged after swastikas graffitied on synagogue doors in Canada

A man has been arrested after a synagogue in Montreal, Canada was vandalized with swastikas on Wednesday, according to reports. Adam Riga, 28, was arrested within minutes of his arrival, the Synagogue said.

Riga appeared in a Montreal court Friday where he’s charged with possessing incendiary and explosive materials with the intention of committing a criminal act and threatening to set fire to a synagogue, according to The Montreal Gazette.

According to Rabbi Scheier of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, the suspect was holding a can of gasoline, a lighter and a can of black spraypaint when he approached the building. Further, he said the suspect attempted to enter the building, but was unsuccessful because of the security measures already in place.

“As the optimist says, it could have been much worse,” Rabbi Scheier wrote in an opinion piece for the Montreal Gazette Thursday. “The attack took place in daylight hours at a synagogue closed due to COVID-19; our security team responded efficiently and effectively — for all of that, we are grateful. It certainly could have been worse.”

The Rabbi added, “Even with that gratitude, it still stings. As I first observed the swastikas on our house of prayer, community, memories, and dreams, I felt profound sadness. Tragically, symbols of hatred are neither shocking nor unexpected, but there is an acute pain when they land at one’s own front door.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the act as “despicable,” in a Wednesday tweet.

“I condemn this vile act in the strongest terms possible and stand united with Congregation @ShaarHashomayim, Rabbi @AdamScheier, and Jewish Canadians across the country. We must always denounce antisemitic hate, no matter when or where it arises,” the PM wrote.

In 2019, Canada saw an 8% increase in antisemitic incidents from the previous year, according to an audit conducted by B’nai Brith Canada. Moreover, more than 6 antisemitic incidents occurred each day of that year totaling 2,205 incidents reported, the audit shows.

And Rabbi Scheier concluded in his op-ed that there’s still so much more that can be done in the fight against antisemitism.

“We can do so much better in addressing the hateful speech and ideas that lead to destructive behaviour, he wrote. “In the next few days, we will likely learn of the man’s motives and how he arrived at the idea to attack our spiritual home. In the meantime, we embrace all of the goodness that surrounds us, and move forward with the sincere and optimistic prayer that love will prevail.”

Follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer

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