Shelburne mosque holds vigil following London attack

June 17, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter                                                       

We Stand With Our London Family.

Community members gathered outside the Muslims of Dufferin Mosque in Orangeville (294 Broadway) on Friday (June 11) and the Muslims of Shelburne Centre last Thursday (June 10), in a vigil and prayer for the members of a Muslim family targeted in an attack in London, Ont.

Imam Yehya Soliman, leader of the Muslim community in Dufferin, led the prayer vigils and started by speaking about his thoughts and emotions after hearing of the attack.

“One person called me, and he asked how I felt about what happened in London, Ont.,” recalled Soliman. “I said, ‘what do you think’. If somebody were killing you because you’re wearing a hijab, if somebody were killing you because you’re wearing a turban, if somebody were killing you because you’re wearing a hat or have no faith, what do you think. Of course I’m sad, I’m angry because it’s not fair.”

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed on June 6 after a truck rammed into the family as they were taking an evening walk. The family’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, is the only survivor and remains in hospital.

Police said the attack was pre-mediated and motivated by hate.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, and terrorism charges.

“Muslims in Canada have become all too familiar with the violence of Islamophobia, discrimination and racism with attacks on Muslim woman in Alberta, the IMO mosque killing, and the Quebec City mosque massacre,” said Soha Soliman, 16, at the vigil.

“This loss of a family, the loss of a child in our community because of Islamophobia is a sorrow that will run deep for a long time – a trauma.”

While speaking to the crowd, Soha recalled feeling numb after hearing about the attack, struggling to find the words to describe the impact, being traumatized, and having the fear she will one day be attacked because of her faith or hijab.

“I wear it not just to wear it. I wear this head covering because it’s a beautiful piece, that I believe respects and protects my dignity and modesty,” said Soha.

Following the London attack, Dufferin-Caledon Conservative MP Kyle Seeback released a statement, speaking out against Islamophobia.

“My heart breaks for this family and the Muslims community. There are many questions that will need to be answered in the day and weeks ahead. Reports that the killing of the family was hate motivated because of their Muslim faith is appalling. Such despicable and extreme demonstrations of hatred must be condemned. An Islamophobic act of terror like this has no place in Canada,” said Seeback.

A purple backdrop with the silhouettes of the four family members hung outside the Shelburne mosque during the vigil, and the colour green was worn. The purple represented 15-year-old Yumna’s favourite colour and green, the colour of Islam, is worn to honour the victims of the Quebec City mosque massacre as well as represent peace.

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