A man arrested after allegedly yelling antisemitic slurs while driving through a Montreal Jewish neighbourhood last year has been charged with willfully inciting hatred against an identifiable group.
The trial of Jawad Jawad, 21, is expected to begin in February. He also faces counts of uttering threats and being in possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes.
A second man with him in the vehicle was acquitted on Dec. 2 of uttering threats and being in possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes after he signed a peace bond in Quebec court.
Judge Pierre Labelle however agreed with Crown attorney Cynthia Gyenizse’s recommendation that Aymane Boushaba, 21, be subject to a number of restrictions for the next six months.
He is forbidden to come within 200 metres of the Jewish community or the home or place of work of the unnamed person whose complaint led to his arrest on May 17, 2021 in Côte St. Luc. Boushaba can also not make any direct or indirect reference to Jews or the complainant on social media during the six months or possess a weapon.
The two Montreal men were stopped by police at the intersection of Kildare Road and Westminster Avenue soon after several people in Côte St. Luc reported witnessing them verbally harass Jews as they drove by.
The incident occurred during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 when the Jewish community was on high alert for possible repercussions locally.
The day before, a pro-Israel rally at downtown Dorchester Square was violently disrupted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks. Police deployed tear gas after the protesters did not obey orders to disperse. At least 15 arrests were made and dozens of infraction notices issued among the Palestinian supporters.
Boushaba and Jawad, both Montreal residents, posted a widely viewed video on social media taken as they drove through Côte St. Luc, which one described as “where the Jews live.” They took it down shortly afterward.
Tensions were such that the suburb’s Mayor Mitchell Brownstein sent out a robocall the next day, at the conclusion of Shavuot, reassuring residents that police and local public security were expending necessary resources in the wake of “recent incidents targeting the Jewish community.”
Federation CJA and its advocacy agency, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, wrote they are “encouraged” by the decision.
“The courts sent a clear message today: roaming with knives and yelling racial slurs at Quebecers of Jewish heritage is unacceptable in any setting and perpetrators will face the consequences of acting on hatred,” federation CEO Yair Szlak stated.
“This sentence sends a clear message to those who seek to perpetrate hate that these actions are not welcome in Quebec and that the consequences are real.”
The penalty imposed on Boushaba was also welcomed by Elisabeth Prass, the area Liberal MNA for D’Arcy McGee and the official critic for the fight against racism. “I am reassured to know that the court is holding accountable the person who made antisemitic threats to Côte St Luc residents in May 2021… ” she tweeted.