There has been an alarming rise in Islamophobia and other hate crimes in Canada in recent years.
Obviously, Muslims are the most grievously affected, according to statistics compiled by police.
But what should one make of claims by owners of a Jewish café in Winnipeg that their café was spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti on April 18 night when in fact it was all staged?
This is what the city police chief Danny Smyth reported on April 24.
The three owners of the restaurant —Alexander Berent, 56, Oxana Berent, 48, and Maxim Berent, 29— were arrested and charged with public mischief since the ‘incident’ was initially reported last week.
They were released and will appear in court next month.
When the police first responded to a reported assault at the BerMax Caffé and Bistro on Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg last Thursday, a woman alleged she was assaulted.
The restaurant was spray-painted with hateful graffiti, the police were told.
Jewish groups in the city expressed alarm.
“I just can’t fathom how or why people would want to do such a terrible act,” Elaine Goldstine, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, said after the alleged vandalism and attack on the café last week.
“We are horrified and saddened,” the CBC quoted her as saying.
“It’s the most brazen act of anti-Semitism that we’ve seen in our community, and perhaps ever,” chimed federation spokesperson Adam Levy. “We hope this is not a sign of things to come.”
Unfortunately, it was a deliberately mischievous act by some of their own. What did they hope to achieve by this was not immediately clear.
But the Winnipeg police were.
“The anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism were falsely reported as being done by outside suspects,” police chief Smyth said.
“We found evidence of a crime. It just wasn’t a hate crime,” said chief Smyth, with visible frustration.
Given the alarming rise in Islamophobia and other hate related crimes, the police in recent weeks have responded quickly to such incidents.
It was no exception in the case of BerMax Caffe and Bistro. In fact the police are extra vigilante in cases of anti-Semitism.
Last Thursday, the police mobilized considerable resources and rushed to the scene to investigate the alleged anti-Semitic incident and took the report seriously.
Such false reports waste precious police resources and breed cynicism.
It was even more egregious since the false claim was made on the eve of Passover, an important Jewish holiday that involves observing the Jewish tradition of Cedar.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman called the alleged fabrication disgusting and said if the mischief charges are proven in court, the actions of the accused would represent a “breach of trust” in the community.