London, Ont. council unanimously support motion to denounce vehicle attack, Islamophobia

Local faith leaders stand at the front of a march calling to end Islamophobia in London, Ont., on June 11. Geoff Robins / The Canadian Press

A motion to denounce last week’s vehicle attack in London, Ont., denounce Islamophobia and commit to working with London’s Muslim community received unanimous approval from city council on Tuesday.

The motion, put forward by Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih and Ward 13 Coun. Arielle Kayabaga, comes in response the deadliest mass murder in London’s history.

Read more: Snowbirds fly over London, Ont. to honour Afzaal family killed in attack

Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Salman, 44, Yumna Salman, 15, and Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed in the attack near Hyde Park and South Carriage roads. The only survivor was Fayez Afzaal, 9, who received serious, but non-life threatening injuries as result .

Police have referred to the attack as a hate crime and say the Muslim family was targeted because of their faith.

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On top of denouncing Islamophobia and last week’s attack, the motion also called on city staff to work with the local Muslim community and other stakeholders “to help end Islamophobia and report back on the outcomes of that work.” This work may include identifying sources of funding for potential anti-Islamophobia initiatives, the motion said.

City staff are also directed to seek input from the Muslim community on how to best remember and honour the victims of the attack, as well as how to best highlight and honour local contributions from the Muslim community.

Councillors also voted to add an amendment from Mayor Ed Holder and Dept. Mayor Josh Morgan that aims to ensure London is ready to take part in any national action summit aimed at dismantling Islamophobia.

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Last week, the House of Commons unanimously supported a call from London-Fanshawe NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen for the government to convene “an emergency national action summit on Islamophobia” before the end of July.

Read more: MPs unanimously back call for emergency summit on Islamophobia after London, Ont. attack

Salih, one of the two councillors who put forward the motion, opened discussion on the matter by thanking the community for the outpouring of support that followed last week’s attack.

“I’m comforted by the fact that when hate shows up, Londoners drown it out with love,” Salih said.

“But we need to face the reality that for many Muslim Londoners who love London, at times we haven’t felt the love back. Simply for existing, simply for being Muslim. Islamophobia is real.”

Kayabaga echoed Salih’s sentiments and talked about how difficult the past week has been for London, but said there is work to be done.

“We have all taken the time to mourn with the Muslim community, with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and we have committed that after the mourning phase, we have to take action,” Kayabaga said.

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The Ward 13 councillor said the call to action is not only for political leaders, adding that leadership can extend into homes, neighbourhoods and families.

“When hate shows up in our city, we have to stand together and fight it back,” Kayabaga said.

“Last year, when we were condemning anti-Blackness, we said we were going to be a city that was going to be anti-racist, and a year later we’re having to face this conversation again… I really hope that we do not have to face this conversation again.”

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

After the motion received unanimous approval from council, a moment of silence was held in honour of the victims of the vehicle attack.

On Monday, the victims’ family spokesperson revealed that Fayez, the nine-year-old injured in the attack, had been released from hospital and is recovering at home with family. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The 20-year-old man accused in the attack faces four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder. On Monday, Crown prosecutors alleged that each offence constituted an act of terrorism.

The case returns to court on June 21.

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Click to play video: 'Hundreds pay respects at funeral for Muslim family killed in London, Ontario attack' Hundreds pay respects at funeral for Muslim family killed in London, Ontario attack
Hundreds pay respects at funeral for Muslim family killed in London, Ontario attack – Jun 12, 2021

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