Muslim community reacts with horror after 4 deaths in what police call “premeditated” hit and run
TORONTO – The Muslim community has reacted with horror and shock to police investigating a hate-motivated car attack in London, Ont. On Sunday night that killed four family members and injured a young boy .
Advocates also demanded justice and called for change that would end what has been a series of hate crimes against Muslims in Canada.
“Our hearts are broken, our minds numb with pain,” community leader Nawaz Tahir told CTV News Channel.
“They were innocent human beings who were killed just because they were Muslims.
Police say a 74-year-old woman, 46-year-old man, 44-year-old woman and 15-year-old girl were beaten and killed by a 20-year-old suspect, who is accused of driving a van in the family at around 8:40 pm A nine-year-old boy has survived and is in hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
“There is evidence that it was a planned and premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” said the detective inspector. Paul Waight during the briefing.
“To be targeted in this way – a grandmother, mother, father and young girl senselessly killed. While the young boy, who should survive now, lost his family. My hands have been shaking for much of the day since hearing this news, ”Amira Elghawaby, human rights activist and founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told Power Play .
“[It] really continues to bewilder the mind as to how hatred in our society can lead to such devastation.
The city’s mayor, Ed Holder, described it as the worst mass murder London has ever seen.
“It wiped out three generations of a family in one act… It’s horrible, insane. And words don’t do it justice, ”Holder told Evan Solomon on Power Play.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) called it a terrorist attack in a statement.
“A man allegedly got into his car, saw a Muslim family walking down the street and decided they didn’t deserve to live. He didn’t know them. This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil and must be treated as such, ”said Mustafa Farooq, the association’s general manager.
The attack is the latest in a series of anti-Muslim violence that has hit communities across Canada. On January 29, 2017, a man opened fire inside a mosque in Quebec City, killing six worshipers and injuring five others. Last September, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis was stabbed to death from behind while sitting outside a mosque in Toronto. And earlier this year, Muslim girls and black women were the target of several hate-motivated attacks and threats in Calgary and Edmonton.
“We just can’t add another date. We must fight and eradicate Islamophobia and Islamophobic violence. Not tomorrow – today. For the sake of our children, our families, our communities, ”Tahir said.
Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec where the 2017 shooting took place, said it was a reminder that minorities must remain vigilant in Canada.
“It shows that hatred is still there and it is disastrous.”
ONLINE HATES A “TOXIC BREWERY”
CNMC documented 322 anti-Muslim incidents between 2013 and 2019, ranging from physical violence to online harassment.
“The sad reality… is no, this is not an isolated event,” Elghawaby said.
“In terms of violence against Canadian Muslims, incidents of vandalism, harassment, unfortunately there has been a continuing trend of this type of activity in our country, just as we know that racism and discrimination against d Other groups have also been on the rise right now, even in the midst of a pandemic. In fact, when we see the pandemic, it almost brought together a poisonous brew. “
Conspiracy theorists and the far right have clung to COVID-19 and created great distrust among the population, advancing divisive narratives that target different communities, Elghawaby said, adding that there is a growing call for better regulation around online hate.
“We are just seeing this type of division manifest itself online in particular and spill over into these tragic results in real life.”
What made the incident particularly frightening to many was the detail that the family was apparently on an after-dinner walk – an activity that became particularly familiar to many Canadians during the pandemic.
“A beautiful summer day, and they were hit by a car, by a man who appears to be filled with hatred and revenge,” said Omar Khamissa, community engagement manager for NCCM.
“This family will never be able to go home just because they went for a walk after dinner.”
A COMMUNITY THAT FINDS GENERATIONS
London, Ont. is home to a large Muslim population whose roots may be dates back to 1890.
The Muslim Mosque in London, built in 1964, is the first purpose-built mosque in Ontario, the second in Canada and the third in North America, according to the London Free Press.
Khamissa said a change is urgently needed so that Muslim families can feel safe and freely practice their religion.
“It’s a community that has been here for years, that helped build this city, that helped build the city from scratch,” he said, noting that some families have been here for 50 years. .
“And they still have to worry about it when they are out for a walk with their family?” This means that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation. “
With a file from the Canadian Press