Family of London, Ont. attack victims say terrorism charges against accused make sense

Click to play video: 'Terror charges laid against accused in London, Ont. attack' Terror charges laid against accused in London, Ont. attack
In addition to four counts of first-degree murder and a count of attempted murder, the accused in the London Ontario vehicle attack now faces terror charges. Crime Specialist Catherine McDonald reports – Jun 14, 2021

The spokesperson for the Afzaal family said laying terrorism charges against the suspect accused of killing four family members will further raise awareness about the seriousness of Islamophobia.

Speaking with Global News, family spokesperson Saboor Khan said the family’s main interest is to address the issue of Islamophobia and expose the problem.

Read more: London attack suspect charged with terrorism

Khan said the June 6 attack has caused immense fear — for example, he said some people are no longer comfortable wearing hijabs. So Khan said that, from the family’s perspective, these terrorism charges make sense.

The suspect, Nathaniel Veltman, was already facing first-degree and attempted murder charges. New charges alleging the attack was an act of terrorism were unveiled Monday.

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Federal prosecutor Sarah Shaikh told the court the deputy director of public prosecutions had approved charges last Wednesday alleging the killings constituted terrorist activity.

The attempted murder is also being prosecuted as terrorism, she said.

Click to play video: 'London, Ont. attack suspect formally charged with terrorism' London, Ont. attack suspect formally charged with terrorism
London, Ont. attack suspect formally charged with terrorism – Jun 14, 2021

The family spokesperson also added that the family is not seeking revenge. Their main focus is raising awareness that Islamophobia is real and that hate will not be tolerated by the justice system.

London lawyer and representative of the London Muslim Mosque, Nawaz Tahir, says laying terrorism charges allows the community to further heal.

“We need to see and hear that there will be justice and that the justice system applies to all Canadians including Muslim Canadians,” he said while speaking with 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady on Let’s Talk London. “If acts are perpetrated against the Muslim community and involves an act of terror, then we need to call that out as such.”

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“That also helps with next steps (such as) healing and understanding what this act was about,” he continued.

Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Salman, 44, Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed in the attack. Fayez Afzaal, 9, was the lone survivor.

Khan said  Fayez has been released from hospital and is recovering in the company of family.

Read more: ‘Taken too soon’: Funeral held for London, Ont., family killed in attack

Aarij Anwer, the Imam of the London Muslim Mosque, told Global News that Fayez is expected to make a full recovery.

“Any of the injuries that he sustained is not going to hamper his long-term health. His family’s here. His uncles are here. His grandma is here from Pakistan,” he said.

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Fayez has also been reaching out to his classmates, friends and his sister’s friends, the Imam said. He’s also had the opportunity to video chat with some friends.

A funeral was held Saturday for the four people killed the evening of June 6 on Hyde Park Road.

— with files from Global News’ Stewart Bell, Catherine McDonald, Kieron O’Dea and Mike Drolet

Click to play video: 'How to speak with your kids about the London attack on a Muslim family' How to speak with your kids about the London attack on a Muslim family
How to speak with your kids about the London attack on a Muslim family – Jun 14, 2021

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