Shomporko Online News Desk: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a fatal hit-and-run event in London, southern Ontario that killed four members of a Muslim family a “terrorist action motivated by hatred” that should galvanize all Canadians to fight hate.
Mr. Trudeau was the first among party leaders to speak out in Parliament on Tuesday about what police have described as a planned act on Sunday, in which a 20-year-old man drove his pickup truck onto a sidewalk and struck five members of a family out on a stroll, killing four of them.
“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,” said Mr. Trudeau.
He named four of the victims, all members of the Afzaal family. They were, said the Prime Minister, Salman, 46, and his 44-year-old wife, Madiha, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, 15, and nine-year-old son Fayaz. The fifth was Salman’s 74-year-old mother, whom the Prime Minister did not name.
Only Fayaz survived, and he is in bad condition at the hospital.
The names of the deceased were revealed in a statement published on behalf of relatives and confirmed by family friend Saboor Khan.
Mr. Trudeau added, “We all hope the little kid will be able to recover soon from his injuries, even though we know he will have to live with the pain, anger, and incomprehension inflicted by this brutal, Islamophobic attack for a long time.”
Shortly after the collision, Nathaniel Veltman was arrested by police in a shopping mall parking lot, seven kilometers away from the scene of the hit and run, after a chase. The 20-year-old faces four charges of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.
London Police Chief Steve Williams said Monday that police believe the act was intentional and the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.
Mr. Trudeau said that, unfortunately, the incident is not isolated, and cited such incidents as the 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec City that left six dead and five injured, the death of Mohammed Aslam Zafis at a Toronto mosque, and violent attacks against Black Muslim women in Edmonton.
“They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith. This is happening here in Canada, and it has to stop,” he told the House.
Mr. Trudeau said hate, whether small incidents – ”the jokes that are not funny” – or more obvious, must be called out. “We cannot allow any form of hate to take root because the consequences can be far too serious,” he said.
“Mr. Speaker, if anyone thinks racism and hatred don’t exist in this country, I want to say this: How do we explain such violence to a child in a hospital?”
He said the government will continue to fund programs like the Security Infrastructure Program to safeguard vulnerable communities, fight hatred online and offline, and take greater action to dismantle far-right hate groups, as it did with the Proud Boys when they were added to Canada’s terror list.
After Mr. Trudeau, other party leaders spoke.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole stated, “Our first obligation as political leaders is to safeguard the protection of our constituents.” “To ensure that Canadians have the freedom to live, work, and worship as they see fit.”