Alleged Montreal synagogue vandal charged with attempted arson, uttering threats

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MONTREAL — A 28-year-old man has been charged with trying to commit arson and for uttering threats after a major synagogue in Montreal was defaced Wednesday with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Adam Riga, 28, of Montreal, appeared in court Thursday by video conference. He was ordered to undergo an evaluation to determine whether he is fit to be arraigned and is scheduled to return before a judge Friday.

Riga was arrested Wednesday, shortly after spray-painted swastikas were found on the doors of Shaar Hashomayim temple. Rabbi Adam Scheier wrote a letter to members stating that a security guard detained the man before he was arrested by police.

Scheier had said the suspect was carrying a gas canister when he was arrested.

According to a court document, Riga faces two charges: possession of incendiary materials — a lighter and a gas canister — and with threatening to burn down the synagogue.

Wednesday's incident prompted widespread outrage, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who condemned the "vile act in the strongest terms possible."

"We must always denounce anti-Semitic hate, no matter when or where it arises," Trudeau wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

Premier Francois Legault also condemned the incident.

"An unacceptable anti-Semitic gesture, which must be denounced loud and clear," Legault wrote Wednesday evening on Twitter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press