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Federal minister attends prayers at Vancouver mosque, pledges action on Islamophobia

Last Updated Jun 11, 2021 at 6:35 pm PDT

(NEWS 1130 photo, Hana Mae Nassar)
Summary

A federal cabinet minister attended Friday's prayers to show his support for the Muslim community

He visited the mosque following what police are describing as a hate-motivated attack in London

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A Vancouver-based federal cabinet minister is standing in solidarity with the Muslim community from coast to coast after Sunday’s deadly attack in London, Ont, left four members of one family dead.

Three generations of a family, Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother were killed at a red light when a large, black pick-up truck came up behind and struck them at a high speed. A nine-year-old is the sole survivor who remains in hospital.

“I see this family that has been taken away, and I see my family could have been there,” Defence Minister and Vancouver South MP Harjit Sajjan said during an address when attending afternoon prayer at Al Masjid Al Jamia.

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Investigators believe the hit-and-run was a targeted attack fueled by Islamophobic hatred.

Sajjan said this is not the first tragedy like this and, unfortunately, may not be the last.

“When [the Afzaal] family was struck by that individual with hate in his heart, I wanted to come out and say ‘I’m a Muslim.’ When Jews are attacked and killed, I want to say ‘I am Jewish,’ because that’s what Canada is about.”

During his address, Sajjan added the federal government will continue its work to add white supremacist organizations to the official terror list.

“I’m not going to sit here and say things will be immediately better by next week or next month. This will take effort. It will take all our efforts — governments, communities, businesses, media — because we are all part of Canada, but by working together, we can do so,” he added.

Haroon Khan a trustee with the Al Jamia Masjid mosque, spoke Friday as well and said the incident has “swept over the nation, and that has impacted each and every one of us.”

“That could be our mother, our grandmother, our daughter, our father, our brother. And what’s left is a young boy who lost everything. He had everything he loved, and he’s now recovering in hospital,” he said.

“We have to call it out for what it is. There is a neofascist, neo-Nazi, white supremacist undercoat in this country. And it’s been around for a long time, but it’s bubbled to the surface, and we have to expose it — we have to route it out where possible. We have to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, and we have to educate because the young man who did this he was 20 years old. Somebody got him somebody indoctrinated him, and he acted out with deadly results.”

On Thursday, hundreds gathered in Vancouver for a vigil dedicated to the four members of a Muslim family.

Outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the crowd shared prayers, spoke out about being targeted in Islamophobic attacks, and united in demanding action to combat hate.

Another vigil will also take place Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Surrey’s Holland Park.