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The director of the SPVM, Fady Dagher, says he feels “extremely high anxiety, a lot of stress, a lot of fear” in the Jewish and Arab-Muslim communities.

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The director of the Montreal City Police Service (SPVM), Fady Dagher, says he is “particularly concerned” by the tense situation in the metropolis due to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.

According to him, events in recent weeks related to the war that began on October 7 following the Hamas attack have cost his organization $1.7 million in overtime. This figure includes the mobilization of agents during events such as demonstrations.

The SPVM has recorded around sixty demonstrations linked to the Israel-Hamas war over the last six weeks on the territory of the City of Montreal. Some brought together thousands of people.

According to Fady Dagher, this is an example which illustrates the unforeseen costs faced by the SPVM. In 2023, his organization spent $42 million more on overtime than budgeted. We are dependent on major events, he declared.

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The SPVM recorded around 60 demonstrations linked to the Israel-Hamas war during the months of October and November. (Archive photo)

Middle East, the eternal conflict

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In an interview on the show Tout un matin, on ICI Premiere, Fady Dagher deplored the climate of tension in the metropolis.

The SPVM recorded 142 hate crimes and incidents against members of the Arab-Muslim and Jewish communities between October 7, when the conflict between Israel and Hamas began, and November 21. Of these, 35 targeted members of Arab-Muslim communities and 107 targeted members of Jewish communities.

I have been around both communities for several years, more than 20 years. But what I feel now when I meet them on either side, [is] extremely high anxiety, a lot of stress, a lot of fear, said Fady Dagher.

Fady Dagher assures that the tensions caused by the Israel-Hamas war are carried even into university classes. He reports being asked by students from the Jewish community to increase the police presence near campuses.

In a socio-politics class ,[…] before October 7, they were all friends, regardless of origins. And since October 7, everyone has become polarized, everyone has been marginalized and that worries me, that young people live like that on a daily basis, he explained.

< blockquote class="Wrapper-sc-2357a233-0 FqMAW">

They are asking for even more police presence and above all to be able to better file complaints, either online or in a neighborhood police station, about incidents and hate crimes [of which] they are witnesses.

A quote from Fady Dagher, director of the Police Department of the City of Montreal

Chief Dagher also deplores that this climate of fear leads members of the Arab-Muslim and Jewish communities to hide the religious symbols they wear.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">The signs, they remove. […] They put a hood over a veil on purpose so as not to be identified, not to be seen.

A quote from Fady Dagher, director of the SPVM

Despite students' demands, he does not intend to increase the police presence on university campuses due to the independence of these establishments.

The director also emphasizes that the number of complaints recorded by the SPVM is not necessarily representative of the scale of crimes and incidents that have occurred since the 7 october. According to him, certain groups are more inclined to file complaints than others.

Click here to listen to the interview given by Fady Dagher to the show Quite a morning.

Even if he describes certain events as excesses, Fady Dagher does not consider that the situation is out of control.

He deplores events such as the scuffle at Concordia University, which occurred at the beginning of November.

According to him, the solution would be a joint call for calm from the leaders of the Jewish and Arab-Muslim communities.

We must be extremely careful in this discussion. Even if you are for peace, it is too fragile at the moment to talk about dialogue, mediation, but I think that eventually, both sides will have to sit down together and we can send out a message of calm and peace on both sides.

A quote from Fady Dagher, director of the SPVM

He hopes that 'Such a meeting will take place before it is too late. He would like […] the two communities to sit down either at a press conference or at a media outing, and ask for a call for peace, for calm, here in Montreal.

According to him, it is a collective responsibility to ensure peace in the territory of the City of Montreal.

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