Update February 26th: Montreal prosecutors found Adam Riga not criminally responsible on Friday but rather will be detained at the Albert-Provost mental health hospital; more here.
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Adam Riga is in police custody after one of Montreal’s largest synagogues was vandalized with antisemitic symbols on Wednesday.
Swastikas were painted onto the doors of Westmount’s Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. Adam Scheier, the synagogue’s rabbi, said Riga had also brought a gasoline canister with him.
“I was actually walking to another meeting and was maybe 100 metres away from the synagogue,” said Scheier. I quickly turned around and when I got there, the perpetrator had already been put in the back of a police car.”
The Rabbi said he reviewed security footage which showed Riga “putting the can of gasoline down and [taking] out the spray paint. That was the first thing he did and thankfully the last thing.”
Police said they received a call from the synagogue’s security guard at 1:30 p.m. The guard was able to keep the suspect at the scene until police arrived to make the arrest.
Riga appears to be a supporter of the antisemitic BDS movement, signing onto a Concordia University “Yes to BDS” resolution back in 2015.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the Jewish community is “outraged by today’s vile assault.”
“This attack targets the entire community and all those who embrace civility and tolerance,” he said.
“Coming in the wake other violent anti-Semitic attacks, it is yet another reminder of the dangerous role social media continues to play in the spreading of hate and the provocation of violence. The Jewish community calls on government and social media to redouble their efforts to monitor and halt this propagation of antisemitism and bigotry.”
The synagogue, like all houses of worship in Montreal, is currently not holding religious services due to COVID-19 public health regulations.