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Liberal candidate Khalil Ramal

Roy MacGregor/The Globe and Mail

A Liberal candidate in London, Ont., is blaming what he calls a divisive political atmosphere for spurring vandals to deface his election signs with ethnic slurs.

Khalil Ramal, who is running in London–Fanshawe, says up to 35 of his signs have been vandalized throughout the riding.

A photo posted online shows the words "ARAB scum" scrawled across one of his signs.

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Ramal says the ongoing debate about the niqab and the focus on immigrants during the federal campaign is bringing out the worst in those who don't believe in multiculturalism.

The former teacher, who now works at a financial services company, immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 1989. He was a Liberal member of the Ontario legislature from 2003 until he was defeated in the 2011 provincial election.

The vandalism comes amid a promise by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to continue a court fight to ban women from wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies and a new promise to look at banning public servants from wearing the niqab at work if he's re-elected October 19.

"As a result of these bad messages, I guess we've seen people who have a small mind, who don't believe in multiculturalism and diversity – they're going to come out and express their hate on the signs, on the walls, whatever," he said.

"When you divide the people, when you create a culture of division, it's going to result that way."

Ramal says it's not the first time his signs have been targeted. Some were torn or pulled out over the weekend, he said, but campaign staff simply replaced them.

His campaign manager John Matsui said residents have been calling to express their disgust with the vandalism.

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He said the campaign has reported the incident to police.

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