A Carleton University student who says he was a victim of hate crime is using his experience to try to open people's eyes to racism.

Nick Bergamini, 22, says he believes he and his roommate Mark Klibanov were targeted for their political and religious beliefs when they were confronted by a group of men outside a Gatineau bar early Monday morning.

"We were just walking, minding our business and they said ‘Zionists' and they went after us because of our political beliefs and his religion," Bergamini told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday.

During the confrontation, Bergamini was punched in the back of the head. As the pair walked along Promenade du Portage towards Ottawa, they were harassed by the same group again. This time the men were allegedly armed with a machete.

"The guy opened up the window and said, ‘I'm the one who hit you, you effing Jew,'" Bergamini recalled. "They got out and kind of charged at my roommate, backed off and I heard ‘open the trunk,' so I looked right at the trunk to see what was coming out and I saw a big machete."

The pair ran and managed to escape unharmed.

Although Bergamini is known on campus for his pro-Israel beliefs, he is not Jewish. He now wants to use his experience to spread awareness about anti-Semitism.

"I hope people realize this is the attitude a lot of people have, with things like Israeli apartheid week. They think it's okay to go to the bar, take it to the next level," Bergamini said.

"People have to know about this because if it happened to us, it can happen to other students – Zionists, Jews. It's our duty to let everyone know," added Klibanov.

Gatineau police are now investigating the incident. Hate crimes in Canada are rare. However, police across the country are paying closer attention to reports of crimes motivated by hate.

The latest statistics show there were 785 hate crimes committed in 2007. Jewish people are the most frequent targets, accounting for 16 per cent of the victims. Muslims were targeted four per cent of the time.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee