Police are investigating whether anti-Semitic messages and phrases targeting Islam painted on telephone poles and buildings in the community of Ranchlands meets the threshold of being a hate crime.
“In order for graffiti to cross the line into criminal hate speech, it has to be targeted towards an identifiable group, must be somewhere public and must be likely to lead to harm against those individuals,” Calgary police said in a statement.
Residents say graffiti isn’t new to the area, but the hateful messages are.
“There’s been the odd … kid graffiti kind of stuff, I don’t even know what it says but then this is a whole other thing,” said Glen Tinckler, who has lived in the area for the last 20 years.
“It’s just disheartening in this day and age there’s still people that feel this way and take to expressing it in such an unsightly manner.”
The graffiti was found near the Al-Salam centre — a multi-purpose building for the Muslim community.
Shima Safwat thinks the graffiti could be linked to an open house they’ve been planning for the last three months.
“What’s wrong, what did you see bad from Muslims here to start this kind of hate signs?” she asked. “We have been very open to everybody and we are, you know, offering our friendship to to everyone, so why?”
The open house is scheduled for Saturday.