Kitchener-Waterloo

'Zoom bombing' during online Waterloo region vigil for London Muslim family under police investigation

Waterloo region police are investigating after what they're calling a "Zoom bombing": hateful online comments made during an online vigil Tuesday evening for the Muslim family in a fatal attack in London, Ont., this week. 

Online event Tuesday attended by more than 800, says Coalition of Muslim Women of KW

The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW says 800 people attended an online vigil for four members of a London, Ont., family who were killed this week. The Tuesday vigil was interrupted by people making racist and homophobic comments. (Coalition of Muslim Women of KW/Facebook)

Waterloo region police are investigating after what they're calling a "Zoom bombing" — hateful online comments made during an online vigil Tuesday evening for the Muslim family in a fatal attack in London, Ont., this week.

The online vigil began about 6 p.m. ET Tuesday and was organized by the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW (CMW), which said more than 800 people attended.

But about two hours in, police said, the vigil was interrupted by people making "racist and homophobic comments."

The online event was held to honour the four family members killed and the nine-year-old boy who survived after a black truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk Sunday. London police believe the truck driver planned the attack and targeted the family because of their Muslim faith. 

The hateful comments in the Waterloo vigil were aimed at Black and Muslim communities in particular, said Fauzia Mazhar, CMW's executive director, in a release.

"The CMW acknowledges the trauma and pain the comments caused to the participants and are truly sorry that anyone had to experience it."

Mazhar said organizers regained control within a few minutes. She thanked those who participated for remaining calm despite the attack. 

"The incident reiterated the sense of insecurity Muslim and racialized communities feel in the physical world, as well as in virtual spaces," she said.

Help for mental health available

The police cybercrime unit is handling the investigation into the Zoom incident. Anyone with information is urged to contact police or CrimeStoppers.

Mazhar said anyone who needs mental health support can contact CMW. She said several therapists and mental health organizations have volunteered their services.

Mazhar said her organization echoes the National Coalition of Canadian Muslims' call for a national action summit on Islamophobia.

"The Muslim community is tired of the constant micro-aggressions as well as the physical and structural violence they have to endure on a regular basis," she said.

"We call for an end to the culture of exclusion, hate and alienation that Canadian Muslims are subject to — which in turn makes them vulnerable to violent attacks."

With files from CBC London

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