London attack: Prayer service, prayer service in honor of Muslim family


Holding flowers and reciting verses of the Quran, members of the Muslim community in London, Ont., gathered for prayers Monday in memory of four members of a family killed in what what prosecutors called a hate-motivated attack.

The visitation ceremony at the city’s Muslim cemetery was among several events held to honor the Afzaal family in the wake of the June 6, 2021 truck attack.

“The impact is very strong on the community,” Munir El-Kassem, director of the Southwest Ontario Muslim Center, said of last year’s tragedy.

“However, we’re on our feet again, and we’re using this experience to send a message to the world fundamentally that the fear of Islamophobia … is something we should get rid of. once and for all. Because how many times do we say goodbye to people on the other side of life before we wake up and say enough is enough.”

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah and 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, died after police said they were intentionally hit by a truck while on an evening walk . The family’s nine-year-old son was injured, but survived.

Relatives of the Afzaal family laid flowers Monday on the graves of their loved ones, marked with small Canadian flags.

Shams Syed, who is close to Salman Afzaal, said the prayers were a way for the community to pay respects to the deceased while also taking a stand against Islamism.

He remembers Afzaal as a “wonderful man” who would try to avoid arguments, choosing instead to “keep smiling and listening.”

“It’s a stab in your heart,” he said, recalling the Afzaal family’s death.

Syed, who is also a trustee with the Pakistani Canadian Association, said last year’s tragedy took a toll.

“Mostly young people are affected very badly because they don’t feel safe,” he said. “My daughter wears a headscarf, we’re always worried when she’s out… Anything can happen.”

A family vigil has been scheduled for 6:30pm in London today and will be led by friends of Yumnah.

Leaders from the Muslim community and friends of the victims called for an end to racism and Islamophobia on Sunday in an emotional memorial service at Yumnah’s school led by friends of the victim. she organized.

A 21-year-old man faces four counts of first-degree murder in the assault. The case has not yet been brought to trial.

This Canadian Press report was first published on June 6, 2022.

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