Hundreds in Ottawa mourn Muslim family killed in London truck attack
Killing of 3 generations in Afzaal family sent shockwaves throughout Canada
Members of Ottawa's Muslim community say the killing of the Afzaal family in London, Ont., "hits close to home."
Hundreds gathered in front of the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa Tuesday evening for an emotional vigil held to honour and mourn the Afzaal family.
Four members the family were identified as the victims of a hit and run Sunday in what police are calling a hate-motivated attack in London, Ont.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Salman Afzaal's 74-year-old mother, Talat Afzaal, were killed after a black truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk.
The youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal, is the only survivor.
Ottawa vigil organizer Nabila Kaci said that little boy was her first thought Tuesday morning.
"Sorry, Fayez, sorry," said Kaci, who is also president of the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Council for Muslim Women.
"Maybe I should have done more, to educate more, to stand up more, stand up against the hate crimes that we see," she said.
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Kaci said Ottawa's Muslim community is living in "disbelief but also fear."
"I fear for my son. I fear for my friends. I fear for my brothers and sisters in the community."
Speakers at the vigil addressed the crowd, asking for the Canadian government to do more to combat Islamophobia.
Sahada Alolo, president of the Ottawa Muslim Women's Organization, said the attack on the Afzaal family "hits close to home."
"I'm a Muslim woman in a hijab and we continue to face discrimination, harassment. The hate crime is real and the fear that we continue to face is actually very, very real," Alolo said.
Naaz and Zia Nathoo attended the vigil with their children. Their 11-year-old son Kaysaan Nathoo laid down flowers on the monument in honour of the Afzaal family.
He said he felt compelled to attend the vigil to show his support against hate.
"I shouldn't have to feel scared to walk straight and be like, 'Oh my God, am I going to get hit by a car because of my religion or colour?'" the 11-year-old said.
Tejpreet Dulat from Ottawa said while he's not Muslim himself, he knows the risk of being a visible minority.
"We all need to stand together on this thing," Dulat said.
Rawan Ahmed, who attended the vigil with her twin sister Rawda, called the attack "sickening."
"It just really leaves us completely speechless and I think about my family who are visibly Muslim and thinking that ... it could have been them," Ahmed said. "This breaks my heart."
Federal Minister Catherine McKenna attended the vigil. She took a moment to deliver a tearful message to the Muslim community.
"This is your community. You're part of this community and we will always, always stand with you," she said Tuesday.