Ottawa police say a fire at a private Islamic school in the city’s west end early Saturday morning was not a hate crime – but the chairman of the school’s board disagrees.

The fire at Abraar School on Grenon Avenue broke out around 3 a.m. ET on the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

The fire caused $100,000 in damages and destroyed part of the roof. There were no injuries.

Police said the fire was the work of arsonists but added that they found no indication it was motivated by hate.

“At this time, we haven’t got any evidence pointing towards a hate crime,” Det. Will Hinterberger of the Ottawa Police Hate Crime Unit told the Ottawa Sun.

But Abdala Kheireddine, the chairman of the school board, told the paper he disagreed with the police assessment.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s still under investigation [as a hate crime],” he said.

“In my time [at the school], neighbourhood kids would disturb some of the playground toys and things like that but never anything of this magnitude.”

Abraar School made headlines in 2005 when two teachers were suspended after allegedly praising a student for an anti-Semitic essay he wrote. The story was about revenge on Israel for the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of the Hamas militant group.

School officials said they expected classes to run as usual on Monday.


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