16.6 C
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
HomeCanadaAfzaal family commemorated by community committed to combating Islamophobia, 2 years after...

Afzaal family commemorated by community committed to combating Islamophobia, 2 years after fatal truck attack | CBC news


On the second anniversary of the truck attack that killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, hundreds of people came to commemorate their lives as they continued the fight against Islamophobia.

A vigil organized by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI) and the City of London was held Tuesday night at the scene of the attack on the Afzaals – who are known as Our London Family. On 6 June 2021, the family were out walking when Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, grandmother Talat and the couple’s daughter, Yumnah, were killed when a lorry hit them at the intersection of South Carriage and Hyde Park. Weighing in what police are calling an alleged hate-motivated attack.

During Tuesday’s vigil, several relatives of the Afzaal family took to the stage, including Madiha Salman’s brother and sister, who spoke emotionally about living the past two years without their loved ones.

“Thank you all very much. Keep trying to contact each other, your neighbors and your friends,” said Arjumand Salman, Madiha’s sister.

In a cracking voice, she explained to the crowd at the vigil that she had tried many times to write a speech but couldn’t find the words. Instead, she spoke from the heart about losing a sibling who was always a phone call away, ready to share recipes and laughs.

Ashar, left, and Arjumand Salman are the brother and sister of Madiha Salman, who was killed along with her family in a truck attack in London, Ont, on June 6, 2021. The siblings, who attended a vigil on Tuesday on the second anniversary of the attack, remembered their sister as a gentle soul. (Michael Cole/ Breaking:)

Madiha’s brother told how his knees gave out when he got the unimaginable phone call. Others who attended the vigil shared how they had found meaning and a greater connection to their Muslim faith since the attack.

“Ironically, whoever killed Yumnah and her family wanted to fan the flames of Islamophobia and make Muslims afraid to be who they are,” said 16-year-old Esa Islam, a cousin and one of the wake’s organizers.

“For me, this horrific attack has only strengthened my faith and increased my passion for fighting Islamophobia so that no family or community will have to face this hatred again!”

Change after a tragedy

The tragedy led to the formation of YCCI, made up of teens and young adults who work to educate others about Islamophobia, what it looks like and its impact on society. By collaborating with other groups, they have had the ear of city institutions, who are also looking for ways to better promote understanding.

A Muslim community liaison officer was hired by the City of London in 2022, and on Tuesday the Thames Valley District School Board, the largest in the region, said it would release a new anti-Islamophobia strategy next year.

“I think Canada has a lot to say about being inclusive, but we have a lot more to do,” said 17-year-old Karli Jones, who attended the wake. “It made me angry when people said, after it happened, they were surprised. Because we shouldn’t be. Islamophobia is here.”

A crowd gathers in front of a stage set up on a roadway.  The stage is flanked by signs reading
People gathered ahead of speeches on Hyde Park Road in London, Ontario, to commemorate the lives of the Afzaal family two years after what police are calling an alleged hate-motivated attack. (Isha Bhargava/Breaking:)

The vigil ended with a moment of silence followed by a call to prayer with several hundred people rolling out prayer mats in the middle of Hyde Park Road. Many in the audience said they had been changed by what happened to the Afzaal family and felt they should be part of the event.

“We are here to show solidarity with the family,” said Iman Nasir Butt, holding a blue sign that read Love for All. “In the Muslim community, this is our message and it is the path to peace and love.”

On Monday, Salman Afzaal’s brother, Umar, and his family released a statement through their lawyers reflecting on the family’s legacy and describing how each person who was killed is remembered.

Umar helps care for the youngest family member, who survived the incident. Breaking: has agreed not to name the boy so that he can live as normal a life as possible.

The trial of the man accused of the murder of the Afzaals will begin with this September in Windsor, Ont.

Our London Family memorial square.
A plaque outside Our London Family Memorial Square in London, Ontario, pays tribute to the four members of the Afzaal family who were killed while walking in 2021. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)
The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Latest stories