Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Montreal Police Investigating Death Threats, Antisemitic Comments Made on Social Media

The Montreal police hate crimes unit is investigating antisemitic comments posted on Facebook and other social media, including death threats, by people reacting to how police broke up several gatherings at places of worship in the city last weekend.

Lawyer Laurent Sabbah said he decided to file a complaint with the Montreal police after several members of the city’s Jewish community contacted him to report seeing antisemitic comments and threats on Facebook and similar social media.

“The comments were outrageous and I was asked to intervene,” Sabbah said. “I took screenshots of the comments and I showed them to the police.”

Sabbah declined to send the Montreal Gazette some examples of the comments and threats because he does not want to impede the police investigation.

A spokesperson for the Montreal police said that, as a policy, they do not comment on complaints.

Sabbah said he filed his complaint at a neighbourhood police station Tuesday morning and, within a couple of hours he was contacted by an investigator with the Montreal police hate crimes unit. He said the the police appear to be taking his complaint “very seriously.”

The comments started Friday, after someone posted a video of people leaving a synagogue in Outremont in a hurry after the Montreal police arrived to investigate what appeared to be a gathering that contravened social distancing measures.

Similar interventions continued throughout the weekend with hundreds of tickets being issued. Some people who were fined argued they were not violating the Quebec government’s decree on gatherings in places of worship because their building allowed groups to pray in different sections of their building.

Following a confusing weekend, the Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec said it regretted “that some members of the communities did not respect the public health directives limiting to 10 the number of people who can be present at the same time in the same place of worship.” But the council also criticized the Montreal police department for misinterpreting the government decree.