'This could have been me:' Windsorites react to deaths of Muslim family in London

Muslim residents of Windsor say they were devastated to hear about the killing of four members of the same Muslim family, and serious injuries to a fifth, by a hit-and-run driver in London, Ont., on the weekend.

4 members of one family killed in what police are calling a hate-motivated, planned attack

Death of London family hits close to home for Muslims in Windsor

CBC News Windsor

15 days ago
These 3 Windsorites say the tragedy in London, Ont. is yet another example of Islamophobia in Canadian society — and more action is needed to put an end to it. 2:26

Muslim residents of Windsor say they were devastated to hear about what police are calling a targetted attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., killing four of them in a hit-and-run and seriously injuring the lone survivor.

Police in London believe the attack, which occurred Sunday, was premeditated, and the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Salman Afzaal's 74-year-old mother were killed after a black truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk.

Fayez Afzaal, 9, survived, and was taken to hospital in serious condition.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, is facing four charges of murder, and one of attempted murder.

Zahraa Chami, a Muslim resident of Windsor, told CBC News attacks like the one in London take their toll on every visible minority group.

"They're more conscious of what they're doing every day," she said. "For me to go out and want to do my everyday things, I have to think twice about, and be conscious where I'm walking, what I'm doing, who I'm talking to, how I portray myself in society."

"Just to be conscious every single day of everything that you're doing is a toll on yourself, on your health, on everything."

Windsor residents Zahraa Chami, Danial Malik, and Ahmed Abdallah say the recent hit-and-run that killed four Muslim family members in London, Ont., shows that Islamophobia is still present in Canada. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

 Danial Malik, also a Muslim resident of Windsor, said he was devastated to hear of the attack.

"This could have been me," he said. "This could have been my family, and this could have been any of the families here in Windsor, or any of the families here in Canada that belong to this community."

"We have to be very careful, keep a strong lookout in our communities, in our neighbourhoods for any suspicious activity and to prevent certain things like this happening, and really taking care of each other," he said. "As Canadians, we have a strong foundation of love and diversity, and we were known to take care of each other."

"So really in our neighbourhoods, we have to watch out for each other and take care of each other."

Ahmed Abdallah, who also lives in Windsor, said he happened to be in London Sunday, in the area of the attack.

"If I had left five minutes later or five minutes earlier, I probably would have passed by the scene," he said. "Just to know that I could have been there at that moment was just kind of a shock."

Abdallah said while change is happening, Islamophobia still exists in Canada.

"I think this incident is just showing that a 20-year-old could have impacted this family in such a way simply because of this hatred or this fear or misunderstanding of Muslim people. It is just telling ... how much work we still have to do," he said.