In vigil remembering Canadian Muslim household, a vow that ‘that is our metropolis’ By Reuters
© Reuters. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays flowers at a vigil outside London’s Muslim Mosque, organized after four members of a Canadian Muslim family in an attack labeled a hateful attack by police in London, Ontario, Canada, June 8, 202 were killed
By Carlos Osorio
LONDON, Ontario (Reuters) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined several thousand mourners in a vigil Tuesday evening to remember three generations of a Canadian Muslim family killed in willful hate crime as a grieving community amid crisis.
“This is our city,” Bilal Rahhal, chairman of the London Muslim Mosque, told the crowd. “Don’t let anyone bother you about your skin color, your beliefs or your place of birth. … This is our city and we’re not going anywhere.”
On Sunday, four family members were killed on an evening stroll near their home in London, Ontario when police said a man rammed them with his pickup truck to attack them for their religion.
The victims were Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife Madiha Salman, 44; her 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal; and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother. Her 9-year-old son, Fayez Afzaal, remained in stable condition in hospital on Tuesday with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was charged with driving a pickup truck onto a curb in London, a city of over 400,000 residents 200 km southwest of Toronto, and crashing into his family.
He was arrested on Sunday just a few hundred meters from London’s Muslim Mosque, which the Afzaal family attended and where the vigil was held on Tuesday.
Turning to the mourners, Trudeau said his government would take action after placing flowers on the steps of the mosque without giving details.
“That was an act of evil. But the light of the people here today, the light of the life of the Afzaal family – that will always outweigh the darkness, ”said Trudeau.
The majority of attendees wore masks after the Ontario government made an exemption from COVID-19 restrictions to allow the vigil.
Canada’s opposition leader Erin O’Toole, other political leaders including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, the first colored leader of a federal party in Canada, and Ontario’s Prime Minister Doug Ford were also in attendance.
The attack sparked a wave of grief nationwide, with similar vigils in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities across Canada.
The hashtag #OurLondonFamily had nearly 10,000 tweets posted Tuesday night and many on social media changed their avatars to an image posted by the London Muslim Mosque with four white outlines of the victims on a purple background with a green ribbon.
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