Is Evil on the rise in today’s world? In light of the news of recent years, many people might think… in the Middle East or other areas that seem remote and far away. But how about in places closer to home? How about in place where you just don’t usually hear about terrible things happening?
Our usual frames of reference tell us that you don’t have violent anti-Jewish acts going on in Canada or the US, but they are on the rise… as are quite a few other things that might surprise you. Here is a story of one such incident. In coming weeks, I will post some more. Are there lessons for Christians in all of this?
Charges pending against student for setting girl’s hair on fire, uttering slurs
Winnipeg – Charges are pending against a 15-year-old male student who allegedly uttered antisemitic slurs at a Jewish girl of the same age, then proceeding to light her hair on fire using a lighter on Nov 18.
Police are looking into the Oak Park High School hallway incident. The accused student, who is said to have possible neo-Nazi and skinhead ties, was arrested last Friday and was later released on the promise to appear in court.
According to Lawrence Lussier, Pembina Trails School Division superintendent, “There was definitely some racial comments made and some physical aggression occurred…[the] ends of [the girl’s] hair were singed [by a lighter].”
The school was made aware of the incident, when, three days after it took place, the female student came forward, telling a counsellor what occurred. The male student was then suspended, and has since withdrawn from the Charleswood-area school (where the female student continues to attend).
“We are still working with the school principal on educational efforts that will promote respect and acceptance and hopefully prevent any futures action like this. This is not something that happens regularly,” said Lussier.
Other students were present while the assault occurred, and some of the witnessing students assisted the victim afterwards.
Senior members of the Crown (due to the uniqueness of the allegations) are considering what charge is most applicable. Although a hate crime charge is possible, it is unlikely (due to such a crime’s definition), but it may be used as an aggravating sentencing factor. An assault-with-a-weapon charge is more likely.
As the accused male student is a youth, any charge he may face would be under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The quiet community of Charleswood and fellow Oak Park students are disturbed and shocked by this incident.
In B’nai Brith Canada midwest regional director Alan Yusim’s view, this occurrence “tears at the fabric of the community…. There should be zero tolerance for any hate-motivated activity in our schools…. It’s unfortunate these things happen, but they’re out there, and they must be dealt with effectively because everybody’s a victim when that sort of an incident occurs.”
As of late Monday morning, Yusim has been in an in-depth discussion with the victim’s mother.
“Between the time the incident occurred and this morning [Dec. 5], five students have been suspended over this – one of whom has been arrested and charged, and another will be arrested, charged, and taken down to the police station today,” said Yusim.
“The police can charge an individual with murder, but cannot charge an individual with a hate crime. Only the attorney general can sign on personally to add the element of hate as an aggravating or primary factor in a case like this. But at least the police have a charge they can work with, with assault or assault with a weapon.”
Yusim said such incidents are sadly not new. “They are insidious and happen everywhere.
“B’nai Brith will do everything we can to assist the victims, the school, and the school division in developing programs to take action against hate-motivated activity.
“B’nai Brith Canada is calling on the community to report all acts of antisemitism and hate-motivated activity by calling our anti-hate hotline 1-800-892-2624 or email http://www.bnaibrith.ca. Professionals are ready to assist victims 24/7.”
Here is a local TV Newscast about this incident:
Keep an eye out for more “Evil on the Rise” and let’s see if there are some lessons for Christians in all of this…