'We share in the pain': Sask. Muslim community mourns after Ontario family killed in vehicle attack
SASKATOON -- Members of Saskatchewan's Muslim community are expressing shock and sadness in the wake of the killing of four members of the same family in London, Ont. in an attack investigators believe was premeditated and motivated by hate.
Police have charged a suspect with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder after he allegedly drove into five pedestrians because of their Islamic faith, killing four members of the same family.
A grandmother, a husband and wife and their teenage daughter were killed in the attack on Sunday. A nine-year-old boy is recovering in hospital from serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
A statement released to the media by a family spokesperson names the deceased as Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha, their daughter Yumna and Salman's mother.
Fayez Afzaal, nine, survived the attack. He "is on the road to recovery from serious injuries," the statement said.
In a Facebook post shared on Tuesday evening, the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (IAS) expressed grief over the "senseless and tragic loss of 4 beautiful souls."
"Yesterday evening, a 20-year-old, hate-filled man, altered the lives of this family, and the larger Canadian Muslim family, by maliciously striking these innocent people with his vehicle, in an Islamophobic, domestic terror attack," the post said.
Mateen Raazi with the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon says he was devastated when he heard about the news coming out of London, Ont.
“Such a senseless tragedy, there’s no reason for it, there’s no sense behind and it is an act of domestic terrorism,” Raazi told CTV News.
Raazi says people should make sure to express their support towards the Muslim community as a way to help address any future hate-motivated attacks.
"We pray that the love, outpouring of support and compassion, silences the hate that has engulfed our society."Mubarik Syed, the public and media relations spokesperson at Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Saskatoon says he’s faced Islamaphobia himself while living in the province.
“Sometimes you shrug it off, other times you can’t, you take it to heart. So we have to stand up against it as a nation.”
Syed says the incident isn’t an isolated event and that Muslim hate has become “a pattern.” He even contemplated asking his wife not to wear her hijab on Tuesday.
“I’m worried about my other Muslim sisters, my other daughters in Saskatoon and in Canada who wear hijab and who are out there visibly seen as Muslims,” Syed said.
It’s something Tesbiha Ahmad in Regina can relate to.
“I can honestly say I have been scared now going out, because it could be anyone. I’m walking down the street and anyone can decide ‘oh she doesn't deserve to live. She doesn't deserve to live’ Why? Because she's a Muslim.”
Ahmad is a part of the University of Regina Muslim Students’ Association and says educating people about Islam and proper portrayal of the religion on social media is the best way to stop hate.
Raazi says the Islamic Centre will be holding a prayer meeting at 7:15 p.m. to honour the family.
In a social media post, the Saskatoon Dawah and Community Center shared a message of grief and also called for justice.
"Four lives were taken last night in a heinous and senseless act of hate, in an Islamophobic attack on a family, while out for an evening walk. Grandmother, mom, dad and daughter killed, while a young son remains injured in hospital, orphaned," the post said.
"Thank you to all who have reached out to us with messages of love, solidarity and support. It takes a collective effort to confront hate in all its manifestations and to bring about much-needed change."
If you need mental health help in the wake of the London, Ont. vehicle attack, support and resources are available here.
--With files from CTV News London and CTVNews.ca.