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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Community gathers to remember Afzaal family on third anniversary of attack

Hundreds gathered on June 6, 2024, to mark the third anniversary of the tragic truck attack in London, Ontario.

Hundreds gathered on June 6, 2024, to mark the third anniversary of the tragic truck attack in London, Ontario, that claimed the lives of four members of the Afzaal family. The vigil, organized by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI), was held at the site of the attack at the intersection of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road. This year’s commemoration follows the recent conviction and sentencing of the attacker, Nathaniel Veltman, who was deemed a terrorist by the court.

Remembering “Our London Family”

The victims, Salman Afzaal (46), his wife Madiha Salman (44), their daughter Yumnah (15), and Salman’s mother Talat Afzaal (74), were killed during an evening walk in what was recognized as an act of terrorism motivated by anti-Muslim hatred. The only survivor was the Afzaals’ young son, who sustained serious injuries. The community affectionately refers to the victims as “Our London Family.”

Read More: Upcoming trial of the man who murdered th Afzaal family in Canada

Community Response and Initiatives

The attack spurred the creation of the YCCI, a group formed by local Muslim youth, some of whom were friends with Yumnah. The YCCI focuses on education campaigns to combat Islamophobia. Nawaal Salat, a YCCI volunteer, expressed pride in the community’s continued support, emphasizing the importance of unity in the face of such tragedies. The group has developed educational resources to teach students about Islamophobia and its impacts.

Continued Struggle Against Hate

Despite the outpouring of community support, members of YCCI, like Esa Islam, highlight that the fight against Islamophobia is far from over. Islam pointed out the increase in hate crimes against Muslims, stressing the need for ongoing education and political action. The attack has also led to the appointment of Canada’s first special representative to combat Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, who spoke at the vigil about the importance of community events in fostering human connection.

Political and Legislative Efforts

The Our London Family Act, a legislative initiative aimed at addressing Islamophobia, has been at a standstill since it was proposed in 2021. Esa Islam, a relative of the Afzaals, has been actively advocating for its passage, alongside the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). The Ontario NDP recently announced plans to advance the bill, reflecting ongoing efforts to combat anti-Muslim racism at the political level.

Read More: Jury selection for Afzaal family murder cased to begin next Tuesday

The vigil not only honored the memory of the Afzaal family but also highlighted the community’s resilience and determination to fight hate. London Mayor Josh Morgan reaffirmed the city’s commitment to combating hate and Islamophobia. Abd Alfatah Twakkal, Chair of the London Council of Imams, emphasized the importance of recognizing the attack as a form of hatred rooted in white nationalist ideologies, advocating for actions to eliminate such discrimination.