Vigil planned in Winnipeg for victims of deadly London, Ont. vehicle attack

WINNIPEG — A vigil is being planned in Winnipeg for the four family members who were killed in a vehicle attack in London, Ont. over the weekend.

The Islamic Social Services Association is planning a drive-in vigil at the Grand Mosque in Winnipeg on Thursday evening. Those attending are asked to remain in their vehicles.

The vigil comes days after four members of the Afzaal were killed on Sunday in what Ontario police said was an attack targeting them over their Muslim faith.

“Like everybody else and every other Canadian, we were shocked and unfortunately not surprised,” said Shahina Siddiqui, the executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association.

“This is hatred – and this hatred and Islamophobia have been festering for such a long time. We’ve been calling it out, we’ve been talking about, we’ve been saying if we don’t do something fast it was escalating.”

Siddiqui pointed to previous attacks in Canada, including a shooting at a mosque in Quebec that killed six Muslim men and wounded five others in 2017, and the fatal stabbing of 58-year-old Mohamed-Aslim Zafis outside a Toronto mosque in September 2020.

“Now this – that is why I say it does not come as a surprise to me,” Siddiqui said.

Nathaniel Veltman, a 20-year-old man from London, Ont., is facing four counts of first-degree murder, and one count of attempted murder in connection to the vehicle attack. The charges have not been proven in court.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killings a terrorist attack, but Siddiqui said more needs to be done to address hatred and Islamophobia.

“We give a lot of lip service to racism and hatred and other things, but we don’t see any concrete actions, we don’t see any education which I think is the key to this,” she said.

“We have 300 plus groups – right-wing extremists – that operate on social media with impunity.”

She said the Muslim community is feeling the impacts of the attack across the country.

“The fear – that is ‘are we safe?’ – that is the main question that is being asked. There is concern about women who are visibly Muslim, leaving their homes going about their business,” she said.

“There is fear, there is grief, there is mourning, there is pain, there is anguish.”

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