There are no words which can do justice to this act of pure evil and hatred:
Police in London, Ont. have charged a suspect with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder after he allegedly hit five pedestrians because of their Islamic faith, killing four members of the same family.
Deceased are a grandmother, a husband and wife and their teenage daughter. A nine-year-old boy is recovering in hospital from serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
A family spokesperson has identified the victims as the Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and Salman's 74-year-old mother. The young boy who survived is Fayez.
The crash occurred around 8:40 p.m. Sunday, when the driver of a pickup truck, Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, allegedly struck five people walking on Hyde Park Road near South Carriage Road.
During a news conference Monday afternoon, London police confirmed that there was evidence that the incident was hate-motivated but didn't go into specifics as to why.
"There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith," said Det.-Insp. Paul Waight during the briefing.
Police also confirmed that the suspect wore a vest similar to body armor during the incident Sunday and that potential terrorism charges are being considered. Waight added there is no known previous connection between the accused and the victims.
Was it an act of terrorism? Well, if it were the other way around and an Islamist mowed down non-Muslims because of their race and religion, I don’t think we’d have any doubts about saying as much. I doubt this guy was wearing body armor because he was on his way to the paintball course.
We don’t know much about the killer yet, and if my speculation that he’s a Canadian citizen who has been marinating in the extreme-right online fever swamp turns out to be incorrect, I will admit as such. Early reports about mass shootings and terror attacks are often wrong. That said, there are some unnerving parallels to the Quebec City mosque attack carried out by a very online far-right zealot in 2017.
When someone in the /r/Canada subreddit said this attack was “not Canadian,” the pushback was swift:
Canada is still reeling from the discovery of unmarked children’s graves at a former residential school, so we know all too well that our country has done some horrendous things - not just in the distant past, but within living memory.
But I still call this attack un-Canadian. It is against everything we profess to stand for.
For all of Canada’s imperfections, it is a model of multicultural, multi-racial harmony for the world. Of course we have racism. Of course we have xenophobia. We are a nation of over 37 million people. No matter what a society does to combat hatred and intolerance, you’re never going to reach everyone.
We have been a haven for millions of people from all over the world, who have come to Canada to live in peace and prosperity. That’s what this terrorist was fighting against. People like him aren’t winning, they lash out against innocent people because they are losing.
My heart breaks for a little boy who lost his parents, sister and grandmother, and very nearly his own life, at the hands of a man who thought he was defending some version of Canada which no longer exists, assuming it ever did. May he never see daylight again.