Multi-faith marches, vigils held in response to London attack

Flag draped coffins

A few thousand people marched in London, Ont., last Friday night in a multi-faith show of support and solidarity in response to a June 6 attack that killed four members of a Muslim family.

People gathered near the site of the fatal hit and run in northwest London that killed four members of the Afzaal family. From there, marchers walked together along a seven-kilometre route from the crash site on Hyde Park and South Carriage Roads to the London Muslim Mosque on Oxford Street. The march was to be followed by a moment of silence at 8:40 p.m., the same time as the attack on Sunday.

Madiha Salman, 44, her husband, Salman Afzaal, 46, their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Afzaal, and Salman’s 74-year-old mother, Talat Afzaal, died after they were run down by a pickup truck June 6 while on one of their regular evening walks. The lone survivor is nine-year-old Fayez.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is in custody and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

The attack has spurred a nationwide response, particularly around the issue of Islamophobia. While groups have expressed support for London’s Muslim community, which numbers about 30,000 people, many Muslims say not enough is being done to address what many see as an increase in violence against Muslims.

Similar marches and vigils were held across Ontario in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kitchener, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and elsewhere. Other vigils have been held across the country as well, including one held in Quebec City last Friday evening.

Yasmine Khan, a friend of the Afzaal family, said the multi-faith march was an important display of support for a Muslim community that is struggling to make sense of the attack.

“This support means we are one step closer to change,” she said. “They’re holding my hand and Fayez’s hand and making sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else again.”

Some carried placards with messages reading ‘Hate has no home here’, ‘Love over hate.’

“The best part was not just the numbers … but the diversity of the people coming from every single community in

London, coming together for this cause,” 19-year-old college student Abdullah Al Jarad said at the march.