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Ottawa police investigating reported hijab-pulling at Israeli flag ceremony in Ottawa

The Ottawa Police Service says its hate crime unit is investigating a reported hijab-pulling incident at Tuesday’s protest at Ottawa City Hall when the Israeli flag was raised for the country’s independence day.

A video on social media shows an individual walking up behind a woman who was chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and waving a Palestinian flag on the grounds of city hall. Part of the video is blurred, but it appears to show the individual giving the finger to the camera before pulling the woman’s hijab down and walking away. The woman says “shame on you” and the video ends.

In a statement, the Ottawa Police Service said, “We are aware of an incident involving a woman’s hijab, from Tuesday’s demonstration. Our Hate Crime Unit is investigating and we ask anyone with information to please contact us at 613-236-1222 ext: 5015.”

Groups of protesters gathered at Ottawa City Hall on Tuesday to both celebrate and condemn the raising of the Israeli flag. Flags of nations with which Canada has diplomatic relations are regularly raised at city hall for national days and other events, but pro-Palestinian groups demanded this year to cancel the Israeli flag raising because of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The city went ahead with the flag raising, but cancelled a planned public ceremony. Jewish groups later organized a private ceremony at city hall that was heavily policed, with metal barricades separating pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups.

Ottawa police reported a 19 per cent increase in hate-motivated incidents in 2023, including a jump in offences since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

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