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In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)

 

by Eden Debebe

World leaders and dignitaries are speaking out after the alleged targeted and hate-motivated attack on a Muslim Pakistani family in London, Ontario that left 4 people dead and a 9-year-old boy fighting for his life in hospital. 

It is now considered the deadliest attack against Canadian Muslims since the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, and is making international headlines in the U.K., France, Turkey, the United States and the Middle East.

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan shared his thoughts on Twitter, calling the incident a “condemnable act of terrorism” that reveals the Islamophobia prevalent in Western countries. 

 

 

During an interview with local broadcaster Samaa news, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the attack was a “blatant act of terrorism” and “test case for the Canadian government and society” to see how it restores the confidence and protection of Muslims in the country. He urged Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to follow the actions of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who earned global praise for her handling of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings.

 

According to Pakistan’s GeoTV News, Quereshi said relatives of the victims were also offered free transport of the bodies to Pakistan for burial, but were told that the funeral services would take place in Canada.

In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was horrified by the attack.

“To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable — and it must stop,” Trudeau said.

 

 

Though London police said suspect Nathaniel Veltman, 20, had no known previous connection with the victims, detective superintendent Paul Waight said there is “evidence this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate” because they were Muslim.

According to police, Veltman used a black pick-up truck to jump a curb and hit a family of five taking an evening stroll late Sunday evening.

Salman Afzaal, 46, was killed in the attack along with 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 remains in hospital with serious injuries.

 

 

Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Waight added RCMP and the attorney general are also considering “possible terrorism charges”.

“Let me be clear, this was an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, rooted in unspeakable hatred,” said London Mayor Ed Holder in a statement posted to Twitter.

To mourn the family, Holder said flags in the city would be lowered for three days.

A GoFundMe campaign in support of members of the victims’ family had raised over $267,000 so far. A vigil has been organized at a local mosque Tuesday night to remember the victims.

A small, makeshift memorial of flowers is pictured on June 7, 2021, on the London, Ontario sidewalk where a Muslim family of five was run down by a vehicle in an attack police say was hate-motivated. (Mark Douglas)