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A Montreal man has been arrested in connection with the desecration of a synagogue in May 2020, B’nai Brith Canada said in a statement on Thursday.

Montreal Police (SPVM) told B’nai Brith that the suspect, Patrice Belley-Gervais, was arrested on Wednesday and appeared in court. His next court date is set for April 30, and he is facing one charge of breaking and entering.

After a lengthy closure due to COVID-19 restrictions, congregants entering the Congregation Sepharde Kol Yehouda in Côte Saint-Luc on May 27, 2020 found that the small institution had been ransacked, with some religious items dumped on the floor, and others stuffed into toilets.

Belley-Gervais has not been charged with a hate crime, according to B’nai Brith Canada, which noted that a "hate crime" is a legal term that is distinct from a hate-motivated crime.

"We are thankful and relieved that a suspect has been arrested in connection with this deplorable incident,” added Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The wanton desecration of places of worship must carry consequences, regardless of motivation.”

Data released by Statistics Canada in July of 2019 found that Canadian Jews were the most targeted group for hate crimes in 2018, a trend continuing from the previous two years.

In Montreal, there have been several anti-Semitic incidents in recent years. In 2017, a Montreal judge issued an arrest warrant for a local imam who allegedly used his pulpit at a city mosque to call for the slaughter of Jews.

In 2019, a taxi driver in Montreal was caught on camera violently assaulting a visibly Jewish man in a parking garage.

In January, a man was arrested after Shaar Hashomayim, one of Montreal's largest synagogues, was vandalized with anti-Semitic symbols.

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