LONDON, Ont. — Dozens of people from many faiths gathered Tuesday night at a vigil organized by members of the Muslim community in London, Ont., to mark the second anniversary of the worst mass killing in the city’s history.
Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna and her grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were run down by a pickup truck on June 6, 2021. The couple’s nine-year-old son was seriously hurt.
Prosecutors allege the attack was an act of terrorism targeting London’s Muslim community.
Nathaniel Veltman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is to stand trial in September.
Tuesday night’s vigil on the street where members of the Afzaal family were killed began with Islamic prayers and requests from the vigil’s hosts for gatherers to get to know their neighbours by turning to the person beside them and say “As-salamu alaykum,” a greeting in Arabic that means ‘Peace be upon you’.
Nida Naved, a Muslim resident of London, said she decided to attend the vigil because it was important for her to show her sons and Muslim youth that they should not be afraid.
“I’m here to show that we stand in solidarity with who we are,” Naved said.
“The (attack) really shook us. We knew the family personally as well, so having events like this really brings everyone together and gives you some comfort that you’re not alone. We’re not afraid of our identity.”
Hadia Fiaz, another Muslim resident of London, said she still feels scared watching her parents walk on the street in traditional clothing.
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“But having conversations with people, gathering… I think it helps,” she said.
William Edward Lawrence, another London resident, said he’s not Muslim but he wanted to come out to show the community support.
“I’ve come to the understanding that we’re all the same,” he said.
“We’re just people trying to make it through life, live a good life, do the best we can. And unfortunately, this tragedy happened so I felt a need to come out and show my respect to the Muslim community.”
London Mayor Josh Morgan, members of the Afzaal family and Amira Elghawaby, who is Canada’s special representative on combating Islamophobia, were among those who spoke during the vigil.