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National Holocaust monument vandalized

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National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa. (Ron Csillag photo)

The Ottawa Police Service is treating as a hate crime an incident in which the National Holocaust Monument was struck by eggs.

Police were alerted to the incident around 4 p.m. on Jan. 29 and have assigned Det. Ali Toghrol of the Service’s hate crimes unit to lead the investigation, said Constable Amy Gagnon, a spokesperson for the police.

Police have limited information about the incident and are calling for witnesses to come forward, she added.

Ottawa police said on Twitter that they were taking the incident seriously while police Chief Peter Sloly stated, “Incidents such as this are deeply disturbing to many communities especially when they target specific groups. It is completely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.”

The incident took place only two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day in which world leaders joined the Jewish community to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

That timing was noted by Jewish organizations, which expressed their horror at the incident.

Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, told the Ottawa Citizen that the Jewish community was deeply troubled by the vandalism.

“While the defacement of the memorial is deeply offensive, acts of this type of hatred towards the Jewish community are hardly novel. As a community, we are prepared to deal with incidents like these,” she said.

“While vandalism of the National Holocaust Monument would be deeply troubling at any time, we are particularly horrified that two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, someone would demonstrate such profound ignorance and lack of respect for the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said in a statement.

“We thank the Ottawa police for investigating the defacement of this hate-motivated incident. Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, it is morally repulsive that Jews are still targeted by anti-Semites,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) said it is “horrified by the recent defacing of the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa and is urging Ottawa Police Service to conduct a thorough investigation to find the suspect.

“It is very disturbing that someone would choose to deface a monument dedicated to the millions of men, women and children who were murdered in the Holocaust, especially in the same week as International Holocaust Remembrance Day during which we pay tribute to victims and vow to never allow such a tragedy to happen again,” said FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo.

“This is an insult to not only Holocaust victims, but also their families, Holocaust survivors and the Jewish community as a whole that to this day continues to be targeted by hate,” he added.

The National Holocaust Monument was opened in September 2017 on Booth Street, across the street from the Canadian War Museum, just west of downtown Ottawa.

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