‘People are afraid’: attack changes ground for London’s Muslim community


London’s Muslim community has always felt relatively safe, even as they watched and mourned violent attacks on people of their faith around the world and in other parts of Canada, community leaders say.

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London’s Muslim community has always felt relatively safe, even as they watched and mourned violent attacks on people of their faith around the world and in other parts of Canada, community leaders say.

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Everything suddenly changed, they said on Monday.

“Islamophobia has struck home. Now we are living it in London, Ontario, ”said Munir El-Kassem, imam of the Islamic Center of Southwestern Ontario on Monday.

Muslims have lived in London for 110 years and are an integral part of the community, said lawyer and Muslim leader Faisal Joseph.

“We have always felt privileged and protected in this community. It’s so disheartening that he can come home. I’m so saddened that this can happen anywhere, let alone our backyards here, ”said Joseph.

“How do we explain to our children and their children that your life is in danger because you believe in God? What are you supposed to do, deny your identity, deny your existence, deny your beliefs? “

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The two leaders said they had been inundated with calls from members of the Muslim community since news of the deaths of four members of the same family and a fifth injured was announced, when a driver hit them on Sunday evening.

Police say the collision was deliberate.

” People are scared. People are angry. They demand actions more than statements, ”El-Kassem said.

Imams in the city released a video to Muslims on Monday to comfort them and remind them that the Quran says evil should not be faced with evil, he said.

“This is a time when we need to channel things into positive energy. We have to be wise in the way we treat it. “

Even so, El-Kassem added, “I hope this time we call this crime for what it is. A hate crime. Islamophobia. And justice will be served accordingly.

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He said he expects leaders and people of many faiths to attend a vigil scheduled for Tuesday evening outside the Muslim mosque in London.

  1. Police officers in London are taking photos near the scene of a collision involving a vehicle that killed four people, including a teenager, and sent a child to hospital.  Photo taken on Monday, June 7, 2021. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press

    “Now we have one boy”: the victims of the accident are considered a “model family”

  2. London police continued Monday morning to investigate near the scene of a Sunday night crash that killed four pedestrians and left another, a child, in hospital with serious injuries.  A 20-year-old driver has been arrested.  Photo taken Monday, June 7, 2021 (Mike Hensen / The London Free Press)

    Family of pedestrians killed in intentional anti-Muslim attack (London police)

  3. London Police have closed a section of Hyde Park Road between Gainsborough and Sarnia Roads following a crash that killed four people on Sunday night.  Photo taken Monday, June 7, 2021. Dale Carruthers / The London Free Press

    The Painful Recent History of Targeted Attacks on Muslims in Canada

  4. Police officers in London are taking photos near the scene of a collision involving a vehicle that killed four people, including a teenager, and sent a child to hospital.  Photo taken on Monday, June 7, 2021. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press

    “Like a horror movie”: eyewitnesses detail an accident that killed pedestrians

  5. London Police have closed a section of Hyde Park Road between Gainsborough and Sarnia as they investigate the deaths of four members of a Muslim family who were struck by a vehicle on Sunday evening as they were walking.  A 20-year-old man is charged with four counts of first degree murder in what Police Chief Steve Williams said investigators believed to be a

    London police launch massive investigation into crash that killed four pedestrians

The Muslim community will also respond by rallying around the family that has lost four members, El-Kassem said.

The family was a family that any community would be proud of, he said.

“Now we end up with a boy. We have to face this tragedy and see how we can help this boy grow up the way his parents wanted him to grow up.

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As protected and secure as London has felt, this is not the first time that local Muslims have faced racism, Joseph said.

But it’s a level of fear rarely seen, he said.

“I haven’t felt this kind of fear since September 11,” he said. “As a community of London, we need to wrap our arms around everyone, to unite, so that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We must fight this ignorance. If we don’t, it’s over.

At an online press conference on Monday, London lawyer Nawaz Tahir, another spokesperson for London’s Muslim community, also denounced the murders and called for justice.

“These were innocent human beings who were killed just because they are Muslims,” he said. “We must confront and eradicate Islamophobia and Islamic violence – not tomorrow, today, for the sake of our children, our families, our communities. “

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About the Tuesday vigil

The Muslim Mosque in London and other Muslim organizations are holding a 7pm vigil in the mosque parking lot at 151 Oxford St. West. Parking is available at Cherryhill Village Mall. Those present are asked to wear a mask and to respect the distancing for COVID-19. The event will be broadcast live on Instagram and Facebook


WHAT OTHERS SAID

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

“I am horrified by the news from London, Ontario. To the loved ones of those who were terrorized by yesterday’s act of hate, we are here for you. We’re here for the child who stays in the hospital too – our thoughts are with you and you will be on our minds as you recover. To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, please know that we are by your side. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hatred is insidious and contemptible – and it must stop. “

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford:

“Hatred and Islamophobia have no place in Ontario. Justice must be served for the horrific act of hate that took place yesterday in London, Ontario. My thoughts and prayers are with families and friends during this difficult time. These heinous acts of violence must stop.

The Mayor of London, Ed Holder:

Let’s be clear: this was a mass act (homicide), perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners and rooted in unspeakable hatred. The extent of such hatred can make one wonder who we are as a city. . . . It is up to us, however, all of us, to answer this question not only with our words, but with our actions.

National Council of Canadian Muslims:

“The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is more than horrified and is calling for justice after the horrific hate-motivated car attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., Who were out for a walk on Sunday night.

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Muslim Mosque in London:

“What happened in our London community shocked us all. And yet, as we are shocked by this act of terror, we will not be intimidated. We will pray for our #OurLondonFamily. We will be alongside #OurLondonFamily.

Mosque officials are also calling for a national summit on Islamophobia involving federal, provincial and municipal leaders to address violence against Muslims and systemic racism against them.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada, a national Muslim organization:

“What happened in London is on a truly incomprehensible scale. This level of (alleged) brutality is something we’ve never seen before, ”said Safwan Choudhry, spokesperson for the group which has more than 25 member mosques and prayer centers, including one in London.

Lal Khan Malik, chairman of the group, said in a statement “that there must be no room for hatred and intolerance in Canada and our deepest thoughts and prayers are for the victims and their families.”

IF YOU NEED HELP

  • Muslim Resource Center for Social Support and Integration, 519-672-6000
  • Muslim Mosque in London, 519-439-9451
  • Muslim Association of Canada (Westmount-Center), 519-936-2304

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