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Montreal police are investigating recent acts of vandalism at Buddhist temples as potential hate crimes.

Louis Le, a volunteer at the Quan Am temple, said today he believes the incidents are racist acts directed at Montreal’s Asian community, possibly due to discrimination over the novel coronavirus, which originated in China.

He says his temple was vandalized twice in the last month by a hooded individual captured on security video smashing statues with a hammer.

Police are not confirming the number or the nature of the incidents but workers at three separate temples told The Canadian Press that statues outside their buildings have been damaged in recent weeks.

Le says the vandal broke over 10 statues both outside and inside his temple’s gates, including a Buddha.

Police say they don’t yet have a motive for the vandalism but add that acts committed against religious symbols are investigated as suspected hate crimes.

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