London, Ont. mosque hosts vigil Tuesday for victims of deadly vehicle attack

0
0

LONDON, ONT. —
A vigil is scheduled Tuesday night in London, Ont. for the victims in a vehicle attack where police say a Muslim family was intentionally struck, killing four members and injuring a young boy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and a number of other federal and provincial leaders will be attending the vigil, which will be held at the London Muslim Mosque on Oxford Street West.

The socially distanced event will be in the parking lot at 7 p.m. and the province has waived COVID-19 restrictions for the vigil, with the support of the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

Parking for the vigil will be available at Cherryhill Village Mall and the event will also be livestreamed on Instagram and Facebook with links to be provided over social media.

Those who attend are asked to bring a green and purple ribbon, stay socially distanced and wear a mask, and bring an umbrella.

Police said on Sunday a Muslim family from London was out for an evening walk along Hyde Park Road near South Carriage Road when they were struck by a man in a pickup truck.

Four members of the family including a grandmother, mother and father, and teenage girl, died as a result of the attack. A fifth victim, a nine-year-old boy, survived but is in hospital recovering from serious injuries.

A statement from a family spokesperson identified the family members as Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and the children’s 74-year-old grandmother. The boy who survived is Fayez., nine.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Trudeau called the incident “a terrorist attack.”

“Their lives were taken in a brutal, cowardly, and brazen act of violence. This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities.”

Before the statements in the House of Commons, MPs held a moment of silence for the victims of the attack.

Ford has expressed his condolences to the Muslim community, and also called it a terrorist attack on innocent people, saying in a statement, “The horrific and deliberate attack on a Muslim family in London has left our province in mourning.”

Police say the 20-year-old male driver of the pickup mounted the curb and struck the family intentionally.

The suspect was arrested near Cherryhill Mall on Oxford Street which is located steps from the London Muslim Mosque.

Nathaniel Veltman of London, Ont. has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the attack.

Members of the Oakridge Secondary School community, where the teenage victim attended, are among the groups planning to show their support for London’s Muslim community prior to the vigil.

They will be standing along Oxford Street as part of a human chain planned to stretch from the accident scene to the London Muslim Mosque starting at 6:30 p.m.

A number of groups, including the Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association, are also encouraging people in London and neighbouring towns to use chalk to draw hearts on sidewalks or display hearts in windows in support of the Muslim community.

Meanwhile a memorial has popped up at the location where the crash occurred along Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road.

People were seen Monday evening dropping off flowers or stuffed animals in honour of the family and injured boy.

A march is also planned for later in the week. The London Multi-faith March to End Hatred is expected to take place Friday at 7 p.m. beginning at the location of the collision. The march will end at the London Muslim Mosque around 8:45 p.m. 

In addition, the London Community Foundation has established a new fund to support the Muslim community. The Strong Together Fund will start with $10,000 from the foundation and all donations will be directed to the London Muslim Mosque and the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration.

If you need mental health help in the wake of the London, Ont. vehicle attack, support and resources are available here.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here