By: Mike Anderson
York Regional Police have charged a 35-year-old Georgina man with mischief after a religious structure located at the Chabad Jewish Centre of Georgina was vandalized earlier this month.
Saeed Ahmad, 35, was arrested by YRP at his residence on October 29 and charged with mischief in relation to religious property.
The vandalism took place on October 19, when a sukkah, a temporary hut used for the eight-day-long Jewish festival of Sukkot, was covered in ash.
A sign that included a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the spiritual leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, was also smeared with ash, according to Rabbi Yossi Vorovitch, who moved to Georgina two-years ago from Brooklyn, New York to establish the centre for Jewish families residing in Georgina.
Rabbi Yossi says Mr. Ahmad continued his confrontational and inappropriate behaviour for more than a week after the vandalism occurred.
On October 26, Mr. Ahmad attempted to enter the centre, which is also the Rabbi’s private home, after services were over. Rabbi Yossi was able to get him to leave, only after threatening to call the police.
Mr. Ahmad also posted a picture of Hitler and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a sword on the centre’s google page.
“That was extremely concerning for us. Because we don’t know what his motives were and what his plans were,” says Rabbi Yossi. ” So thankfully last night, he was apprehended and charged.”
Despite Mr. Ahmad’s conduct, Rabbi Yossi wants to emphasize the many phone calls and emails of support the centre and the local Jewish community has received from the wider community.
“This pattern of behaviours is unacceptable, and we obviously take it with much concern,” says Rabbi Yossi. “But it’s heartwarming how much support we’ve received. We believe Georgina is an extremely safe place to live and a beautiful community.”
Mr. Ahmad is being held in custody and will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket on October 30 for a bail hearing.
The Chabad Jewish Centre has started a fundraising campaign to install surveillance cameras; donations can be made on their website: www.jewishgeorgina.ca
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