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'Words are not enough:' Hamilton vigil honours Muslim family killed in London, Ont. attack

More than 100 people attended a vigil in Bayfront Park on Wednesday to pay their respects and speak out against Islamophobia.

'I see that picture and I see my family ... it definitely hits close to home,' said Ali Jafri

Hamilton vigil honours Muslim family members killed in London, Ont. truck attack

CBC News Hamilton

4 days ago
1:18
More than 100 people attended a vigil in Bayfront Park to pay their respects to the family and speak out against Islamophobia. 1:18

When Ali Jafri looks at a picture of the Afzaal family, four of whom were killed in the London, Ont. truck attack, he said he can't help but think of his own loved ones.

"I see that picture and I see my family ... two kids, husband, wife, grandmother walking down the street like we would," he said.

"It definitely hits close to home."

Jafri was among more than 100 people at a vigil in Hamilton's Bayfront Park Wednesday night to grieve, pay their respects to the family and speak out against Islamophobia.

The gathering comes after Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman's mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. The youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez, survived and remains in hospital.

Police said there's evidence the 20-year-old charged in the attack targeted the family because of their Muslim faith.

Hamilton community members arrived at the park around 8:30 p.m., wearing masks and carrying prayer mats. Some also brought signs in support of the family.

Among them was Nazli Khan, a coordinator at the Jinnah Cultural Society of Hamilton, who held a sign that read: "Scared of a scarf? Knowledge before fear. No racism, no hate, no Islamophobia."

Nazli Khan, a coordinator at the Jinnah Cultural Society of Hamilton, held a sign denouncing racism during a vigil in Hamilton. She said the fatal truck attack in London, Ont., won't scare her from going outside and living her life. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)
 
Families sat on the grass at Bayfront Park as the sun set on Wednesday during the ceremony. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The event featured speeches from organizers Koubra Haggar and Sabreina Dahab, Dr. Ali Taher Ghouse, president of the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton, and Imam Sayed Tora, of the Mountain Mosque.

"We respect the words of solidarity that we have been receiving from everyone in the community ... but with all respect to you, the answer we have is words are not enough," Tora said.

He also pointed to the death of Hamilton teen Yosif Al-Hasnawi as another blow to the Muslim community.

Imam Sayed Tora, of the Mountain Mosque, led a prayer at Bayfront Park on Wednesday evening. He said he wants to see concrete actions taken against Islamophobia. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)
More than 100 community members participated in a Maghrib, or sunset prayer. Many watched from the perimeter. Some wiped tears from their eyes. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

After the speeches and reminders to follow COVID-19 precautions, community members participated in a Maghrib, or sunset prayer.

Khan said she went to the ceremony for healing, adding the tragedy in London will not break Muslims.

"I'm not scared to be out there," she said. "This cannot stop us."

Community members listened to speakers during the Wednesday night vigil. The ceremony honoured the Afzaal family, four of whom were killed in the London, Ont. truck attack. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

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