Fourteen-year-old Hateem Amin was decided to attend the outside vigil in London, Ont., to honour her 15-year previous good friend Yumna Afzaal and three relations who had been run down and killed by a truck Sunday night in what police say was a hate-motivated assault.
“I need to assist her. She died due to her religion, due to her color,” Hateen mentioned. “And I’m additionally of her religion, of her color. And I wish to present her that I am so robust.”
Gripping an indication that learn: “She was our good friend,” Hateem was one of many hundreds who blocked off a part of Oxford Avenue — a foremost London thoroughfare — on a scorching Tuesday night to collect outdoors the London Muslim Mosque. They had been joined by neighborhood, non secular and political leaders, all there to indicate assist for the Muslim neighborhood and name for motion towards Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate.
“I am so completely happy that this many individuals care about her and so many individuals are keen to share her story,” Hateem mentioned. “And I simply need the world to know why she died.”
In keeping with police, Yumna, alongside along with her father Salman Afzaal, 46, his spouse Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman’s mom, Talat Afzaal, 74, had been out for a stroll once they had been mowed down by a truck — killed in a success and run assault, which police mentioned particularly focused the Muslim household.
Yumna’s nine-year-old brother Fayez survived.
Muslims say they really feel unsafe
To mark their tragic deaths, the gang noticed a second of silence at 8:40 p.m., the identical time within the night the household was attacked.
The deaths have shocked this southwestern Ontario college metropolis of slightly over 400,000 folks, the place greater than 30,000 Muslims reside. Final yr, town, a hub for manufacturing, know-how and medical analysis, recorded 4 murders in complete.
Whereas the vigil was partially a time to grieve the lack of the household, it additionally served as a reminder of how unsafe many Muslims really feel in the neighborhood.
WATCH | 1000’s collect in London, Ont., to honour household killed in assault:
Nusaiba Al-Azem, second vice-chair of the London Muslim Mosque, mentioned she’s walked alongside the road the place the household was struck down.
“I’ve walked that path that our London household walked on Sunday and by no means acquired to complete,” Al-Azem instructed these gathered. “And similar to lots of my family and friends have expressed to one another and on social media, it is not a matter that it may have been me. It was one in all us.”
The sombre occasion drew folks from all totally different communities, together with many non-Muslims who held up indicators that learn: “We stand with our London household” and “Variety is our energy.”
Rania Lawendy, a council member of the Muslim Affiliation of Canada, who has consoled college students on the London Islamic Faculty, the place Yumna as soon as attended, handed out purple and inexperienced ribbons to members of the gang.
The purple represented Yumna’s favorite color. And the inexperienced is a part of the Inexperienced Sq. Marketing campaign, which takes place yearly to signify the inexperienced carpets of the Quebec Metropolis mosque, the place, in 2017 the victims of one other lethal assault directed at Muslims, final stood to hope. The 2017 capturing left six useless and 5 injured.
Household and associates of the deceased, together with the primary responders who tried to save lots of the household after they had been attacked, had been invited to be the primary to tie their ribbons to the mosque fence.
“It is fantastic to see the sort of assist,” Lawendy mentioned in regards to the hundreds who had come out to assist the vigil.
“It does heat my coronary heart however I would prefer to see extra folks, not simply at a vigil. I would prefer to see extra folks calling out Islamophobia, calling out any sort of hate rhetoric.”
WATCH: ‘Islamophobia is actual,’ Trudeau tells London, Ont., vigil:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was one of many many political leaders — of all political stripes — who got here to London to talk on the vigil. Trudeau mentioned there have been no phrases to ease the grief of getting three generations killed whereas they had been out strolling of their neighbourhood.
He mentioned Canadians make a pact to look out for one another, however for the Muslim neighborhood, “that pact has been damaged too many occasions.”
Earlier within the day, a gradual stream of individuals made their technique to the scene of the assault, a principally sparse intersection that has since been changed into a memorial for the household, the place bouquets of flowers and teddy bears adorn the bottom.
Halema Khan, alongside along with her three youngsters, paid her respects to the Afzaals, whom she considered household.
“Simply wanted to see for myself that is actual, that they are now not amongst us,” Khan mentioned.
She final spoke with Mahida Salman two days earlier than she was killed. Salman’s final phrases to her good friend had been: ‘Please hold my household in your prayers.”