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Ottawa police are investigating an incident in which hateful and antisemitic graffiti was spray-painted on downtown buildings, CTV News Ottawa reports.

Police were first alerted to the graffiti at around 8:20 a.m. Monday, they said in a statement.

At the courthouse on Elgin Street, a homophobic message was spray-painted on one wall, while a swastika was painted on the provincial government sign out front.

A message targeting the mayor that said "Jim Watson is a fraud" was also spray-painted across the Heritage Building at Ottawa City Hall.

Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, condemned the graffiti.

"It is a sign and symbol of the systematic murder of six million Jews and the terrorization of so many more, so to see that spray painted on the institution that upholds justice, a key Canadian value, is very distressing," Freedman said, according to CTV News Ottawa. "I would love to tell you that I was surprised, but I wasn’t. The horror never diminished, but surprised? I can't say that I was."

B'nai Brith Canada said, according to CBC, that the incident is just one example of a disturbing increase in online hate, and it called for a Holocaust Remembrance across the country "to combat Jew-hate in educational systems."

The Hate and Bias Crime Unit is investigating. The graffiti has since been washed away.

The CBC report noted that this vandalism is just the latest in a string of recent incidents involving hateful messaging targeting Jewish people in Ottawa.

Last week, police said they were investigating eight incidents of posters with hateful and antisemitic messages placed in public areas around the city, including a skatepark in the west end.

Canada in general has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years.

In late March, Statistics Canada released its annual survey of police-reported hate crimes which found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada.

The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

In April, B’nai Brith Canada released its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada have increased 18 percent since 2019.

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