Montreal man arrested for alleged hate speech on social media

Social media

A Montreal man has been arrested for allegedly uttering hate speech on social media, with authorities saying they are dealing with more complaints of hate-related cases since Sunday's mass killing at a mosque.

The 47-year-old was arrested Tuesday night at his residence in Kirkland, a suburb on Montreal's west island.

His arrest comes just a few days after a gunman killed six men who were praying at a Quebec City mosque and wounded several others.

Montreal police spokesman Raphael Bergeron said investigators were still questioning the man at a detention centre.

It is unclear whether he will be arraigned later Wednesday or be released on a promise to appear, Bergeron said.

The exact nature of any charges the man may face is also unknown, he added.

Montreal police said Quebec provincial police told them about the comments.

The chief spokesman for the provincial force, which probes online threats, took to Twitter on Tuesday to remind users their posts can lead to criminal charges.

``Threatening or hate propaganda on social media, regardless of intention (humour), can be criminal,'' said Capt. Guy Lapointe.

``The inhibitions are less present behind a keyboard,'' he said.

In addition to stepping up patrols around places of worship, Montreal police Chief Philippe Pichet told reporters Tuesday the force has also seen a spike in the number of reports of hate crimes since the mosque attack.

Last May, Montreal police created a hate-crimes unit to probe such complaints.

On Wednesday, the head of Montreal's anti-radicalization centre told the city's executive committee it has received 24 calls since Sunday, including 10 related to Islamophobia and four related to the extreme right.

Herman Deparice-Okomba said four of those cases have been transferred to police.

``It (24) is an enormous number in 72 hours,'' he said.

The last case was referred to police on Tuesday evening.