Hate crime unit investigating hijab-pulling incident at Israeli Independence Day event

Stats from the Ottawa police Hate and Bias Crime Unit show officers addressed 460 incidents last year, including 344 criminal and 116 hate-motivated incidents.

Hate crime unit investigating hijab-pulling incident at Israeli Independence Day event
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The Ottawa Police Service is investigating a reported hijab-pulling incident from Tuesday's protest at city hall during a flag-raising event for Israeli Independence Day.

A video posted to social media shows a person walking up behind a woman chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." The woman was also waving a Palestinian flag. The video then shows the person giving the middle finger to the camera and pulling the woman's hijab down before walking away.

Ottawa police said in a statement they were aware of the incident and that the hate crime unit was investigating.

On Tuesday, demonstrators convened at city hall, some to commemorate and others to denounce the hoisting of the Israeli flag. Typically, flags of nations maintaining diplomatic ties with Canada are ceremoniously raised at city hall for national observances and other significant occasions. However, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, anti-Israel groups demanded the cancellation of this year's Israeli flag-raising.

Despite the outcry, the city proceeded with the flag-raising but opted to forgo a scheduled public ceremony.

Subsequently, Jewish groups ran a private event at city hall, tightly monitored by law enforcement, with metal barriers separating pro- and anti-Israel groups.

The Ottawa Police Service Hate and Bias Crime Unit's annual statistics from 2023 show the unit addressed 460 incidents last year, including 344 criminal and 116 hate-motivated incidents, which marks an increase of 19.5% over 2022, with a jump being seen after the October 7 Hamas terror attack against Israel.

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