This week saw a vicious crime committed against a Muslim family in London, Ontario when a motorist deliberately rammed his pickup truck into the five members of the Afzaal family, killing four (spanning three generations) and placing the Afzaals’ nine-year-old son in hospital with serious injuries.
The murder of the London family stands as Canada’s worst hate crime in recent years, and the worst crime committed in the name of Islamophobia in the country since the January 2017 at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City that killed six worshippers and injured a further five.
This savage act has rightly been condemned as an act of terrorism by Prime Minister Trudeau, as well as by Ontario premier Doug Ford and by Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, from where the family immigrated about 14 years ago.
Shocking as this act was, it is, sadly, the latest in a pattern of hate crimes against Muslims. The attack on the Afzaal family came less than a year after the September 2020 murder of a mosque caretaker in Toronto by a known neo-Nazi sympathizer and barely two years after the horrific mass shootings at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 51 and injured 40.
At Vista Virtual School we condemn all forms of Islamophobia and stand in solidarity with our Muslim students, families, and colleagues in the wake of this hateful crime. We also support the recent call by the London Mosque (where the family worshipped) for national, provincial, and municipal leaders to establish a National Action Summit on Islamophobia aimed at tackling anti-Muslim hatred and violence.
Supporters can show their solidarity by wearing a green ribbon and by using the hashtag #OurLondonFamily. Please note that while the five family members’ names have been made public by the media, the family has requested that people refrain from further circulating their names while they are grieving and need space. Members of the public are also invited to support the bereaved family directly by donating to the Afzaal Family Fund.
We encourage you all to do what you can to show your solidarity with your fellow Canadians of Muslim faith and to take a stand against Islamophobia in your communities. Together we can create a world where senseless acts of violence motivated by racial, cultural, and religious bigotry are consigned to the history books.