By The Canadian Press
LONDON, Ont. — A vigil is scheduled for tonight at the mosque of five family members who police say were intentionally struck down by a driver in London, Ont.
The London Muslim Mosque said the city and the country are devastated in the aftermath of Sunday’s attack, which left four dead and sent a nine-year-old boy to hospital.
Police have said the family members were targeted because of their Muslim faith.
They say a pickup truck, driven by a 20-year-old London man, mounted a curb, struck them as they were out for an evening walk and then drove away.
Police have not released the names of the victims, but a statement released by the family late Monday identifies them as Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother.
The couple’s nine-year-old son Fayez was seriously injured but is expected to survive.
Sana Yasir, a friend of the family who lived down the street, confirmed she had been in touch with Afzaal’s brother and sister-in-law and released the statement on their behalf.
“We need to understand that the destruction of a family in the brutal and horrific manner like this is something we must all stand against,” the statement reads. “We need to stand against hate and Islamophobia and raise awareness in our communities and throughout all political spectrum.”
Yasir said the family was well known within the local Pakistani-Muslim community.
“They were the most loving, caring and genuine family and would always greet you with a smile,” she said.
Dozens came out to the scene of the attack on Monday night to pay tribute.
People cried, hugged and placed flowers around a light pole and a nearby tree, a metre away from where the truck hopped the curb onto the sidewalk.
Rauf Ahmad and three of his friends watched the growing tribute on the corner. The group said they all had members who were killed in Pakistan over their Muslim faith.
“I didn’t think there was racism in Canada and I felt very safe when I came here two years ago, but I do not feel safe now,” Ahmad said.
“Humanity is first, we should not care about whether someone is a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian.”
Politicians across Canada and beyond have also denounced the attack, with many calling it an act of terror.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, condemned the incident on Twitter, saying it reveals “the growing Islamophobia in Western countries.”
The country’s foreign affairs minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, expressed sympathy for the relatives of the victims and hope for the child’s recovery.
Nathaniel Veltman has been arrested and charged with murder in the attack.