As the police finally confirmed that the killing of the Pakistani-Muslim family in London, Ontario, was indeed a hate crime, the shockwaves from the incident continue to alarm people worldwide.
In the past, people migrated to Canada, considering it as a safer place than the US, which has become infamous for its rising Islamophobia. Little did they know that the hate would reach them so soon.
Everyone should feel safe to be who they are.
We will wear our hijabs and our turbans with pride.
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) June 9, 2021
On Sunday, a man rammed a pickup truck into the Pakistani-Muslim family while they were standing on a street corner in London, Ontario. The four family members killed were: Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Afzaal; and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, Talat Afzaal. Their 9-year-old son, Fayez Afzaal, the sole survivor, remains hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Three generations of the family were wiped out in a flash.
Canada is generally welcoming toward immigrants and all religions, but in 2017 a French Canadian man known for far-right, nationalist views went on a shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people. Islamophobic attacks have continued after that – but seems like never properly addressed.
While people may be shocked and blindsided by this mass murder, the ingredients for this tragedy have long been in the making. The warning signs of white nationalist violence have been glaring. Statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims in Canada grew 253% between 2012 and 2015. Sunday’s incident was a reminder that the sense of security in the country was a false veil that can be ripped apart at any moment.
The Afzaals moved to the city from Pakistan 14 years ago and soon became much-loved members of the local community. Salman was a physiotherapist in elder care. Madiha was a writer and civil engineer on the path to finish her Ph.D. Yumna was a painter who already left her legacy at the London Islamic School: a floor-to-ceiling space-themed mural with the words “shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
This mural was made by 15 year old Yumna Afzaal. Her star was stolen by hate but the spirit of her inspiring words cannot be denied. It should be shared & never forgotten. This is what every Canadian should aspire to #OurLondonFamily pic.twitter.com/aAYF9bKpw0
— Abdu Sharkawy (@SharkawyMD) June 8, 2021
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his outrage over the targeted killing of the Pakistani-Muslim family and called for a united stand against Islamophobia.
I am appalled by the targeted and heinous attack on a Muslim family in Ontario, Canada. My heart goes out to the victims, surviving family and loved ones – and the community.
We must stand united against Islamophobia and all forms of hatred, now more than ever.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 8, 2021
For Fayez Salman, the nine-year-old survivor whose world has been shattered by hatred, none of this matters right now. God only knows how the little boy will make sense of this tragedy. Our prayers are with him.
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(You can support the family and fight against Islamophobia in Canada by donating to the GoFundMe page created for the same.)
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.