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Montreal police boost surveillance around synagogues, schools after online threats target Jewish community

WATCH: Montreal police are reassuring the Jewish community following threatening comments made online. As Global's Dan Spector explains, in a letter sent to schools, community organizations and businesses, the department says the patrols have been stepped up.

Montreal police say they are being vigilant after a man was released on bail after making online death threats last week against the city’s Jewish community.

In a letter to members of the community, police say the man was arrested and charged on Oct. 25 with threats and incitement to hatred. He was then released on $500 bail “with conditions that he not use social media and keep the peace.”

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The hate crimes and incidents unit have since been checking in on the man to ensure he complies with those conditions, according to the letter.

“Since he has been arrested and was released with conditions, nothing has been put on his page,” Insp. André Durocher told Global News on Friday. “Investigators have been in touch with Facebook to see if they can remove some of the content.”

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Police say they have also increased surveillance around synagogues and schools in Montreal.

“We asked officers in their spare time to patrol areas that can be sensitive. We asked them if they’re writing a report, park near a school or near an area that can help increase a feeling of security in the community,” Durocher explained.

In the letter, police advise members of the Jewish community to contact them if they are a witness or victim of a hate crime or incident.

Harvey Levine of B’Nai Brith says tensions were high after the threat.

“Our community is very nervous,” he said.

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“He made very specific death threats toward Jewish girls and Jewish schools, and our phone was ringing off the hook.”

Last week, Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Quebec, commended police for their rapid response and professionalism. Poupko told Global News it was police who informed them of the arrest.

On Friday, B’nai Brith also lauded the police reaction.

“People are happy that they’re getting reassurances from the Montreal police. We were satisfied with that response. We feel fortunate we have a police force and a hate crimes unit that takes this very seriously,” Levine said.

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Comments taken down

The comments were allegedly posted Wednesday, Oct. 24, on the Facebook page of the Journal de Montréal — a French-language daily newspaper.

In a news release, CIJA expressed its dismay over the comments and provided a screen grab of the threatening rant. The comments have since been taken down.

A screen grab of threatening comments allegedly posted on the Journal de Montréal Facebook page.
A screen grab of threatening comments allegedly posted on the Journal de Montréal Facebook page. CIJA

Written in French, the poster’s first comment says how a good Jew should be used as firewood. The person then goes on to brag that no one is as anti-Zionist as he his and that he will surely kill a few.

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The posts escalate to read, “Not a problem, what counts is how many Jews I will have eliminated by killing a whole school of Jewish girls.”

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He goes on to say that it’s not a threat, but a promise and accuses Jews of wanting to kill everyone, so they shouldn’t complain if others want to do the same in return.

He ends his rant by reminding readers that an immigrant is, by definition, an enemy who will vote against your values and your rights and steal your job.

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Global News has reached out the Journal de Montréal for comment but has yet to hear back.

In spite of the online threat, a number of Jewish Montrealers told Global News Friday they don’t feel directly threatened.

“I’ve not felt any threats personally,” said Avi Goldberg. “Most of us are aware they happen. There always needs to be vigilance related to these things.”

“I haven’t really felt concerned. We’re in Montreal, it’s generally a very safe area, but we must always be on the lookout,” said Evan Litwin.

Gosselin will appear in court Nov. 6.

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