Montreal Gazette

Teen who burned Israel flag handed social media ban


A Montreal teen has been banned from using social media after breaking a probation condition imposed for burning Israeli flags ripped down from outside a West Island elementary school, Quebec's crown prosecutor's office says.

On Monday, after pleading guilty in Youth Court to arson causing property damage, the youth was given one year probation with several conditions, one of which bars him from referring on social media to the charges he faced.

On Tuesday, a new item was posted on the Instagram account that had published a video of the April 26 flag incident.

The post reads: “Finally released on probation. They thought they had silenced me, but I'm back and stronger than ever. Thanks to those who supported me and above all don't forget Palestine. My voice alone is worthless but together we move the city and we disturb them. Our victory soon. Inshallah. #freepalest­ine”

The Instagram account features two posts. The other one is a video of a young man ripping down flags outside the Hebrew Foundation School, then burning them. The still-viewable video has garnered more than 1,100 comments.

Patricia Johnson, a spokespers­on for the Crown prosecutor's office, told the Montreal Gazette the boy was in Youth Court on Thursday for breaking a probation condition and is scheduled for a followup court date on June 7.

Among the new conditions imposed is that he not “directly or indirectly” use social media, Johnson said.

Hebrew Foundation School had put up the flags to celebrate the 75th anniversar­y of Israeli independen­ce. That day, several thousand Montrealer­s took part in Israel Day events.

The flag incident sparked fear in the Jewish community, with Montreal police, local public security and volunteers increasing patrols around Jewish institutio­ns across the city.

The Montreal Gazette is not publishing the Instagram handle because the identity of the boy, who was 16 when he was arrested hours after the incident, is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Under the initial conditions imposed on the boy, he must complete 17 hours of community service.

He was also forbidden from making references on social media to Israel or the Dollard-desormeaux school that was targeted.

He must also not go within 200 metres of the school, must write a letter of apology to the school and must donate $250 to Just Peace Advocates, a human rights organizati­on.

Jewish groups had denounced the sentence as inadequate, saying the court did not sufficient­ly consider “the hateful motivation behind his actions nor the magnitude of the incident's impact on the community.”

Eta Yudin, Quebec vice-president at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the latest Instagram post proves the initial conditions were not strong enough.

“It is worth noting that we raised concerns that the probation's conditions did not factor in the antisemiti­sm inherent in his actions and the subsequent impact his crime had on Quebec's Jewish community,” Yudin said.

“We rightly feared that the sentence did nothing to educate the individual about the harm of his actions and would not lead to him changing his conduct.”

Yudin added: “Antisemiti­sm has no place in Montreal and the court must send a strong message that hate is unacceptab­le and that the consequenc­es of acting on it are real.”

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