Kitchener-Waterloo

'Like it's just next door': Coalition of Muslim Women of KW to hold vigil after truck attack on London family

The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW will hold an online vigil Tuesday in memory of a London, Ont., Muslim family who police believe were the victims of a targeted hit and run Sunday that left four of them dead.

Online event will be to 'share our heart,' says Fauzia Mazhar, coalition's executive director

The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW will hold an online vigil Tuesday to honour a family believed to have been targeted in a hit and run Sunday. Four of the five family members died, with the other in hospital. (IStock)

The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW will hold an online vigil Tuesday in memory of a London, Ont., Muslim family who police believe were the victims of a targeted hit and run Sunday that left four of them dead.

The family, including a boy who survived and remains in hospital with serious injuries, were hit by a pickup truck while waiting to cross a street during their walk.

Police have said "there is evidence" they were targeted because of their faith. The four who died ranged in age from nine to 74 years old.

"It was such a shock, really devastating," said Fauzia Mazhar, executive director of the Coalition for Muslim Women of KW. 

"It's just like living Jan. 29, 2017 again … the Quebec mosque shooting." 

London police have charged Nathaniel Veltman, 20, with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Police say terrorism charges are also possible. 

The names of the victims aren't being released at this time, at the request of family members. Three adults and a teenage girl were killed, and a nine-year old boy remained in hospital.

'Feels like it's just next door'

The vigil Tuesday will be held at 6 p.m. ET online and is open to anyone, Mazhar said. People can RSVP by contacting mifrah.abid@cmw-kw.org. Details will also be posted to social media.

"I don't think we can even think about healing at this time," Mazhar said. "It's more like just coming together and being able to hear from others and just share our heart." 

Added to the feelings of grief, Mazhar said, are fears about copycat events. She noted London is just over an hour away, and that many in Waterloo region have connections to that city through friends, family and business. 

"It feels like it's just next door," she said. 

Call for justice

In a statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims called for justice and said the Muslim community has become "all too familiar" with the violence of Islamophobia. 

"But this loss of a family, the loss of a child in our community because of Islamophobia — this is a sorrow that will run deep for a long time," said the organization's CEO, Mustafa Farooq, in a statement. "But let that sorrow be the ground where we stand for justice, and stand for change."  

Mazhar urged people to take Islamophobia and incidents of hate seriously. People in Waterloo region can report these incidents at reportinghate.ca, Mazhar said, and have the option to remain anonymous. 

A town hall with the Waterloo Region Police Service will be held July 13 to discuss hate crimes and community safety, Mazhar said. 

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