Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Trudeau Slams 'Terrorist' Killing of Muslim Family

Wednesday 09/June/2021 - 12:48 PM
The Reference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday denounced the killing of four Muslim family members, run down by the driver of a pick-up truck, as a hate-driven "terrorist attack.”

The victims -- a husband and wife, their teenage daughter and the child's grandmother -- were killed Sunday when the truck mounted a curb and struck them in the city of London, in Canada's central Ontario province.

London, a city of about 400,000 people located halfway between Detroit and Toronto, has a large Muslim community and at least three mosques.

The couple's nine-year-old son, orphaned in what police said was a planned attack targeting a Muslim family, was recovering in hospital from serious injuries.

"This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities," Trudeau said during an impassioned speech at the House of Commons.

"We all need to be aware," he later told reporters, "that Canada is not immune to the kind of intolerance -- of the kind of division -- that we have seen elsewhere around the world."

The victims were part of a "model family... always there giving and participating in spreading goodness," said a statement issued by their relatives.

Following Sunday's "brutal and horrific attack," the statement said, it was time for all Canadians, from the government on down, to "take a strong stand" against hatred, Islamophobia and intolerance.

The victims of Sunday's attack have been identified as Madiha Salman, age 44, who had done post-graduate work in civil and environmental engineering; her husband, Salman Afzaal, age 46; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Salman; and a woman reported to be Afzaal's 74-year-old mother, who was not named. The family is of Pakistani origin.

The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, was arrested at a mall seven kilometers away, said Detective Superintendent Paul Waight.

Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Several leaders of the Muslim community have called on the courts to deem the episode a terrorist attack.

Among them is the Muslim Association of Canada, which asked authorities to "prosecute this horrific attack as an act of hate and terrorism."

The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017. London Mayor Ed Holder called it the worst mass murder in his city's history.

"They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith," Trudeau said, promising to step up the country's fight against far-right racist groups. "This is happening here, in Canada. And it has to stop."