Additional expressions of support and solidarity with the Muslim community in London, Ont., are being planned while the suspect charged in Sunday’s vehicle attack is due back in court Thursday.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother were killed after police say a pickup truck heading south on Hyde Park Road near South Carriage Road intentionally mounted the sidewalk and struck the family. Nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal suffered serious injuries.
Police say it’s believed the family was targeted because of their faith.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Thursday’s court proceedings will occur just two days after thousands gathered at a vigil for the family.
The vigil started shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday outside of the London Muslim Mosque and lasted around two hours, filled with prayers and calls for action against Islamophobia.
Several dignitaries were in attendance at the vigil, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
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Another gathering is being planned for Friday evening, organized by St. Aidan’s Anglican Church.
The Multi-Faith March to End Hatred will start at the site of the attack on Hyde Park Road at 7 p.m. and make its way down Oxford Street towards the London Muslim Mosque.
Rev. Kevin George acknowledged, however, that a march is not enough to make real change and more action is needed. He said people need to have the courage to speak out when they hear racial slurs or other derogatory speech.
“It also means examining the ways and the fears that we have in our own hearts. We can’t help but be infused and sort of surrounded by what we’ve been raised in. And we live in a colonized reality,” he said.
“And if we have that heart for care, for justice, for love, for peace, for reconciliation, then we also have to do the heavy work, the hard work, the messy work of being present and sitting in the conversation and hearing, quite frankly, difficult stories.”
A memorial at the site of the attack is also growing as people continue to lay flowers and place signs at the scene.
— with files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca, Jake Jeffrey, Matt Carty and Kaylen Small.
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