CORNWALL, Ontario – On Wednesday night, June 9, members of the Cornwall community and the surrounding area from a variety of faiths and creeds came together to remember and mourn a Muslim family of five who were victims of a terrorist attack in London, ON.
On Sunday night, A Canadian family of Pakistani origin, Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna, 15, their son Fayz, 9, and Salman Afzaal’s mother were deliberately struck by a 20-year-old man driving a pick-up truck. London police say that the attack was deliberate and that the family was targeted because they were Muslim. Salman, Madiha, Yumna, and Salman’s mother were killed, and nine-year-old Fayz was taken to hospital with serious, non-life threatening injuries.
The vigil in Cornwall took place virtually in the evening on June 9 and was moderated by Osama Chaudhry.
The first speaker was Abdollah Vakily, who works with Muslim youth in the Cornwall community. Vakily reminded the audience that the Muslim holy book, the Qu’ran celebrates the differences between peoples.
“Whatever divisions that divide us, they were originally created by God, but not to create fight and disharmony in the world, but it is to know each other and by know each other as brothers and sisters on this Earth, then we will work together in appreciation of our creator, and his plan and how to make him happy,” he said. “If we realize we are all created by God, we do not betray each other, we do not hate each other, we do not slander each other. We love each other because we are all a creation of God. If we love God, then inevitably we love the creations of God.”
Also addressing the audience was Raza Bashir Tarar, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canada. Tarar said that he had spoken with relatives of the victims, as well as his country’s Foreign Minister.
“I don’t presume to have any adequate words which can express the grief and distress we are feeling at this calamity that has befallen an innocent family who have been martyred and the Muslim community in general and Canadians of Pakistani origin in particular,” Tarar said.
Tarar called on his fellow Muslims to show their neighbours what Islam is truly all about.
“We have to show the world what is the true face of Islam. Whoever tries to pass off violence in the name of Islam is misguided,” he said. “We have to sensitize the world that Islam does not make any provision of racism, superiority over others, or materialism. Islam does not visualize a battle or constant conflict between religions or civilizations.”
Chaudhry closed the vigil by thanking all who were in attendance, and asked them to embrace a message of love and hope.
“I want all of us to take home the message of love, peace, and hope, and these will overcome the hate we find in our society today. I wish you all a peaceful night,” he said.