A vigil is being held Tuesday evening in London, Ont., to show support for the city’s Muslim community and honour the lives of four family members who were killed on Sunday in what police said was a premeditated attack because of their faith.
CBC News is livestreaming the vigil, which is being held outside the London Muslim Mosque. The event is also broadcasting on CBC News Network and streamed on CBC Gem.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother Talat Afzaal were killed after a black truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk on Sunday.
The youngest member of the family, Fayez, 9, survived and remains in hospital in serious condition.
The attack has prompted calls from advocates from Canada’s Muslim communities for concrete efforts to combat Islamophobia across the country.
“We don’t want people to be alienated and live in fear,” Munir El-Kassem, imam of the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario, told CBC’s Ginella Massa on Monday. “We’ve got to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the hit and run as “a terrorist attack” and said Canada must unite to confront the “ugly, pervasive trend” of anti-Muslim violence that threatens some communities.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who also condemned the attack, said he asked local health authorities to make an exemption to pandemic restrictions so people could gather for the vigil. Ford said he will also attend.
In a statement on its website, the mosque asked those attending to maintain physical distancing and to wear a mask if they are able.
The victims’ extended family said in its statement that the public needs to stand against hatred and Islamophobia.
“This young man who committed this act of terror was influenced by a group that he associated with, and the rest of the community must take a strong stand against this, from the highest levels in our government to every member of the community,” the statement said.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Det.-Supt. Paul Waight said London police had not determined if he was a member of any specific hate group.
Waight said London police is working with federal police and prosecutors to see about potential terrorism charges. He declined to detail evidence pointing to a possible hate crime, but said the attack was planned.