Thousands Mourning the Souls of the London Attack Victims

PM Trudeau and others at vigilLast Sunday evening London Ontario witnessed one of the most harrowing events in its history, shaking this quiet, peaceful city. During their evening walk, an entire Muslim family was brutally and intentionally attacked by a rogue man driving a truck, murdering four members and severely injuring the fifth. This tragedy immediately provoked pain and terror among members of the entire Muslim community and shocked others who call London home.

On Tuesday evening thousands of people from London’s various religious and cultural communities gathered at a vigil held by London Muslim Mosque, standing in solidarity with the Muslim community and expressing their deep indignation at what had transpired.

The gathering collectively and firmly denounced the cowardly act perpetrated by an individual who represents no one but himself. This act of terror was so loathsome and offensive that it shook the entire London community to its very core. Joining the crowd of mourners at the vigil was the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the leaders of the opposition parties, Ontario’s premier Doug Ford, many other leaders in the London community. The proceedings were broadcast on all local, national, and international media outlets. All the speakers acknowledged that this act was not a mere accident, but a terroristic act of Islamophobia in the heart of one of Canada’s most peaceful cities. Such racist ideologies and deeply- rooted hostile attitudes certainly have no place in a country like Canada, and were strongly condemned by Canadian officials and civilians alike. Such horrendous beliefs have a history of leading to mass murders in Canada and elsewhere and must be stopped at all costs.

This unspeakable murder resulted in the killing of three generations of a lovely Muslim family, injuring their 9-year-old son. Members of this family were all well known in our community and maintained friendly relations with all their neighbors and friends. The mother, Madiha Salman, was an ambitious postgraduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Western University. The father, Salman Afzaal, was a Health Sciences graduate student at Western University.

The number of attendees in the vigil exceeded thirteen thousand, collectively denouncing this heinous crime that stands in stark contrast to the manners and values demonstrated by our fellow Londoners, contributing to the development and prosperity of our city and a feeling of safety in those who live here. In one voice they strongly condemned this unspeakable hate crime and vowed to always stand up against this form of aggression and terror. These racist beliefs destroy the harmony and rich interchange among our multicultural communities and threaten to sever the ties of friendship and cooperation that exist between members of Canadian society. Attendees at the vigil all pledged to support the Muslim community and to unite in confronting anyone who would infringe upon the security of the country, the peace among neighbors, or the wellbeing of any one of their community’s members.

I implore Allah to strengthen the ties of love and friendship among all members of Canadian society. May He bless anyone who contributes to the peace to be found in this beautiful country.

yahya_pic.jpgYahya Kharrat, Ph.D.
Assistant Prof. of Arabic Studies
Western University, Faculty of Arts & Humanities