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Jewish community 'outraged' after suspected arsons at Montreal-area synagogue, institution

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Montreal police (SPVM) are investigating attempted arsons Tuesday at the Congregation Beth Tikvah synagogue and a neighbouring Jewish organization in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on the West Island.

"During the night, an incendiary object was thrown through the front door," said Sabrina Gauthier, a spokesperson with Montreal police, adding the back door of another nearby building that houses Federation CJA was also targeted. "There is minor damage. The investigation is ongoing."

No arrests have been made, and a security perimeter has just been set up in the area to allow investigators to analyze the scene.

Organization B'nai Brith Canada says it is "outraged and concerned" about the incident.

"We were shocked to find the remnants of what appears to be a Molotov cocktail thrown at the front door," said Henry Topas, B'nai Brith Canada's Quebec regional director, who also serves as a cantor at Congregation Beth Tikvah. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented about the incident on X, formerly Twitter, calling it "deeply disturbing."

"Antisemitism is completely unacceptable and must always be condemned – our government will continue to work with Jewish communities to combat this hatred," he said.

'INTOLERABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE'

Federation CJA President Yair Szlak held a press conference Tuesday with Eta Yudin, vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA Quebec), to condemn the attempted arson.

Szlak called it "intolerable and unacceptable."

"What has happened today cannot happen again. It must be the last time this happens and we're very proud of the relationship we've had with the SPVM, who have not only answered the call the morning of Oct. 7 in increasing their patrols and visibility in Jewish communities, but are taking this circumstance very, very seriously," said Szlak. "We do hope that other communities in Quebec will stand up to this kind of hate."

B'nai Brith says Topas was the one who contacted Montreal police to report the crime.

"We urge the authorities to investigate and arrest those responsible for this violent act targeting our community," he said.

The file has been transferred to the Montreal police arson squad. 

The force says it has not yet been classified as a hate crime.

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