A court ruled recently that a teen did not commit a hate crime when he burned a Jewish girl’s hair while saying “Lets burn the jew.”
The controversial decision was made when the court decided that the boy did not target the girl because she was Jewish, but because he “was a bully and a jerk.”
Judge Rob Finlayson called the boy's words "totally vulgar and inappropriate," but said he believed the "impulsive and unplanned" assault was not racially motivated.
The boy, 17 years old now but 15 at the time of the crime, has been sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation and ordered to complete 75 hours of community service.
A number of Jewish organizations are upset by the ruling, saying the judge and prosecutors chose to ignore the blatant racial motivation behind the crime.
"To ignore the racial overtones - the perpetrator's direct reference to the Holocaust and the burning of six million Jews in the concentration camps - is almost incomprehensible," argued Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center President and CEO Avi Benlolo. "This ruling does a terrible disservice to the concept of justice and sends a message of utter disregard to the Jews of Winnipeg and Canada. I cannot imagine the same decision would have been rendered had the perpetrator targeted any other minority group in a similar way."
Frank Dimant, CEO of B’Nai Brith Canada, is calling on the Canadian Attorney General to review the court’s decision.
"It is a disappointing decision that makes no sense in the face of the facts and the troubling situation that apparently prevailed in the school,” Dimant said. “The finding is disappointing in the sense that it muddies the waters of hate crime legislation while giving a most unfortunate license to those that hate and bully -- particularly in the school system.
“The notion of hate motivated crimes in the Criminal Code is not limited to those crimes which are planned in advance," Dimant continued. "There is nothing in the Code to suggest such a limitation. The prosecutor and court seem to think that a dish is only hatred if it is served cold. Yet hatred is a dish which can be and is most often served hot.”
The court has not yet responded to the comments of the various groups, nor has the Canadian Attorney General decided whether they will review the case.