Tue 08 June 2021:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sorrow Monday for the four members of a Muslim family who were killed when a pickup truck driver intentionally plowed into them in London, Ontario.
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.
“I’m horrified by the news from London, Ontario,” the prime minister tweeted. “To the loved ones of those who were terrorized by yesterday’s [Sunday] act of hatred, we are here for you.
I’m horrified by the news from London, Ontario. To the loved ones of those who were terrorized by yesterday’s act of hatred, we are here for you. We are also here for the child who remains in hospital – our hearts go out to you, and you will be in our thoughts as you recover.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 7, 2021
“Islamophobia had no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.”
Another family member, a boy, 9, was also struck and he is in hospital in serious but not life-threatening condition.
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ARREST 5 EXECUTIVES
OF PRO-DEMOCRACY DAILY
GETS INTERIM ANTICIPATORY BAIL
STARTING POINTS ON SYRIA,
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32% INCREASE IN TECHNOLOGY
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FOUND OFF SINGAPORE
$8.2MLN TO IDENTIFY
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(FEMININE)’ LANGUAGE SETTING
IN INCLUSION, DIVERSITY DRIVE
“We are also here for the child who remains in hospital – our hearts go out to you, and you will be in our thoughts as you recover,” Trudeau tweeted.
While names of the victims have not been released, police said the deceased are a 74-year-old woman, a man, 46, a woman, 44, and a 15-year-old girl. The incident occurred about 8:40 p.m. Sunday.
Police said the driver, who was wearing a device similar to body armor, was arrested shortly afterward about seven kilometers (4.3 miles) from the scene.
The driver, Nathaniel Veltman, 20, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, police said.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” said London Police Detective Inspector Paul Waight at a press briefing.
“This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” London Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.”
Eyewitness Paige Martin told reporters a black truck blasted past her and ran a red light, and then she came upon the scene and saw “chaos”. First responders were running to help, a police officer was performing chest compressions on one person, and three other people were lying on the ground.
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 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.
At a virtual press conference Monday, the mayor of the city of London also condemned the crime.
“Let me be clear, this was an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred,” said Mayor Ed Holder.
The family statement said the public needs 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.
By late evening on Monday, a steady stream of mourners was seen arriving near the scene of the attack, dropping off flowers and saying prayers. One placard read: “When does it stop? Enough.”
A vigil has been organised at a local mosque on Tuesday night to remember the victims.
London, which has about 400,000 residents, has a large Muslim community and Mayor Holder said Arabic is the second-most-spoken language after English in the city.
The teenage girl who was killed “will be deeply missed by fellow students and staff at Oakridge Secondary School”, the school said in a statement.
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.
Statistics Canada said in March that police-reported hate crimes targeting Muslims “rose slightly” to 181 incidents in 2019 – the last year for which the data is available. That is up from 166 incidents the previous year.
In recent months, Muslim women in the province of Alberta have been targeted in several incidents of verbal and physical abuse.
London is a city of about 405,000 about 200 km (124 miles) southwest of Toronto. Police said the family was walking along a street and had stopped to cross at an intersection when the truck was driven over the curb and hit them.