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‘My grief is not because they were Muslim, but because they were human’: Canadian Muslims react to London attack

Click to play video: 'London attack suspect’s former co-worker shocked by charges' London attack suspect’s former co-worker shocked by charges
WATCH: Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder after a Muslim family was struck by a vehicle in London, Ontario. As Jeff Semple reports, one of Veltman's former co-workers is in utter disbelief – Jun 8, 2021

Members of Canada’s Islamic community say they’re shocked — yet not surprised — after a senseless attack in London, Ont., killed four members of a Muslim family on the weekend.

Police believe the driver of a truck that mounted the curb and struck a family of five — a grandmother, a mother, a father and two young children — was targeting the victims because of their Muslim faith.

A nine-year-old boy is expected to survive.

Shahina Siddiqui, the Winnipeg-based executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association, says the entire community is reeling with the news.

Read more: 'This is a terrorist attack’ — Trudeau condemns tragedy in London, Ont. that left 4 dead

“We are having secondhand grief and trauma,” Siddiqui told 680 CJOB.

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“I never thought, in my 46 years in Canada, that we would have to worry about walking down the street.”

Siddiqui said the attack is just the latest escalation in a growing trend of aggression and violence toward Canadian Muslims in recent years.

“The everyday vandalism at mosques and whatnot, those were signs for people to pay attention — for our leaders to pay attention — that this would only escalate,” she said.

“When you don’t address hate, the one hating thinks it’s OK.”

“We knew this was coming long before the killings had started because the hate had gone unaddressed — the Islamophobia that was being denied and ignored.”

Click to play video: 'London, Ont. Mayor calls deadly attack on Muslim family ‘act of mass murder’' London, Ont. Mayor calls deadly attack on Muslim family ‘act of mass murder’
London, Ont. Mayor calls deadly attack on Muslim family ‘act of mass murder’ – Jun 7, 2021

Raheel Raza, author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad: A Muslim Canadian Speaks Out, told 680 CJOB she’s heartbroken about the attack, not because the victims were fellow Muslims, but because they were innocent human beings.

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“I feel for the boy who survived,” she said. “Hopefully he will heal, but he will grow up with memories of hate and evil in this world, and that is so tragic.

“I think the most important thing of this entire tragedy is we have to come together as human beings and understand that this is what hate does to people.

“Even war has rules of engagement. Taking innocent lives is the lowest that humanity can stoop to. Even animals don’t do this to each other.”

Raza, who also heads up the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, said the biggest outstanding question is why the young man accused of the crime committed such a senseless, hateful act.

“The perpetrator is only 20 years old. Where did he learn this hate? You don’t kill innocent people unless there’s rage or hate, and where did it come from?

“No one is born hating, it’s a learned behaviour, and if we want to resolve this issue, we need to go to the root of where hate is being taught.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend a vigil for the family in London later this week.

Click to play video: '4 members of Muslim family killed, targeted in London, Ontario hit and run' 4 members of Muslim family killed, targeted in London, Ontario hit and run
4 members of Muslim family killed, targeted in London, Ontario hit and run – Jun 7, 2021

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