Jun 08, 2021
Matched with expressions of grief and anguish, progressives in both Canada and the U.S. are calling on the broader public to stand against Islamophobia after the murder of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario on Sunday.
In the worst attack on Canadian Muslims since a 2017 shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, police say evidence shows a driver intentionally ran into Salman and Madiha Afzal, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and nine-year-old son Fayez, and a 74-year-old grandmother whose name was not made public. Fayez was the only survivor of the attack and was recovering from his injuries in a hospital Tuesday morning.
London police said the attack on the family as they were waiting to cross a street was "a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate."
"We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith," detective superintendent Paul Waught told reporters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he planned to travel to London Tuesday to attend an evening vigil.
"To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable--and it must stop," said Trudeau.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), called on Canadians to "stand with our Muslim family, friends, and neighbors against such vile hate."
\u201cThe news from London, ON is horrifying\n\nA Muslim family was out for a walk - like many this pandemic\n\nThey were murdered because of their faith\n\nThis is an act of Islamophobia & terror\n\nMore than ever we must stand w/ our Muslim family, friends & neighbours against such vile hate\u201d— Jagmeet Singh (@Jagmeet Singh) 1623101142
The murder of the Afzal family comes amid reports that hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in Canada. In 2019, 181 crimes motivated by anti-Muslim hate were reported to Canadian police, according to Statistics Canada--up from 166 the previous year.
A 20-year-old suspect was arrested in a mall parking lot after the attack and was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. The suspect was wearing a body armor vest, according to Al Jazeera.
The attack drew international condemnation, including from U.S. lawmakers like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
\u201cWho can fathom this kind of hate? My heart breaks for the Afzaal family. This is a cruel reminder that anti-Muslim hate is deadly and alive in the West. We must all speak out against it. And prosecute these violent hate crimes against Muslims vigorously.\n\nhttps://t.co/jhIjk9sklw\u201d— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1623124796
Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, from which the Afzal family emigrated 14 years ago, also expressed grief and outrage.
"Saddened to learn of the killing of a Muslim Pakistani-origin Canadian family in London, Ontario," Khan said. "This condemnable act of terrorism reveals the growing Islamophobia in Western countries. Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community."
Others expressed similar sadness and horror.
\u201cAbsolutely gutted. \n\nFour members of a Muslim family, in Ontario, were killed last night when a 20 year old man drove his car into them. They were targeted because of their faith, according to police. \n\nThey're survived by one 9-year-old child.\n\nInnalilahi wa innalilahi raji'un.\u201d— Sana Saeed (@Sana Saeed) 1623096865
"Why do people have to die for who they are?" asked Linda Sarsour, co-founder of the Women's March and the Muslim advocacy group M-Power Change. "Horrific. Sending prayers to our Ontario Muslim family. We stand with you."
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