Alwaght- A Canadian driver ran over a Muslim family in Ontario, killing four people, including a teenage girl in an apparant hate crime against Muslims.
Police in the Canadian province of Ontario says a driver intentionally struck a family because they were Muslim, killing four people and seriously injuring a nine-year-old boy in what has been denounced as an “act of unspeakable hatred” and Islamophobia, Al Jazeera reported.
The victims, all members of the same family, were hit on Sunday evening while waiting to cross a street in the city of London, about 200km southwest of Toronto, Canadian news outlets reported on Monday.
Police said the victims were two women aged 77 and 44, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl. A nine-year-old boy was seriously injured and is recovering in hospital.
"This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” London Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred".
The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017. Holder said it was the worst mass murder his city had ever seen.
Sunday’s attack came amid rising concerns about Islamophobic attacks in provinces across Canada and widespread calls for authorities to tackle racism, hate-motivated violence, and the prevalence of far-right groups.
A 20-year-old suspect identified as Nathaniel Veltman has been arrested, local police said in a statement. He has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, Global News reported.
Veltman was arrested in a mall parking lot without incident while wearing a body-armor-type vest, police said. There is no evidence he had any accomplices.
A few dozen people stood on the sidewalk and several drivers got out of their cars to help. “I can’t get the sound of the screams out of my head,” Martin said.
The family of victims issued a statement and urged the public to stand against hate and Islamophobia.
"This young man who committed this act of terror was influenced by a group that he associated with, and the rest of the community must take a strong stand against this, from the highest levels in our government to every member of the community,” it said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “horrified” by what he described as an “act of hatred”, and said his thoughts were with the victims’ loved ones, including the young boy who survived.
"To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop,” Trudeau tweeted.
Sorrow will run deep
The National Council of Canadian Muslims, a national advocacy group, said it was “beyond horrified” by the deadly attack.
“This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such. We call on the government to prosecute the attacker to the fullest extent of the law, including considering terrorist charges,” the group’s CEO, Mustafa Farooq, said in a statement on Monday.
“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. But let that sorrow be the ground where we stand for justice, and stand for change".