Killing of Muslim family in Canada has revealed growing Islamophobia in western countries, says Imran Khan

Calling it a “condemnable act of terrorism”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the killing of four members of a Muslim family in the south of Canada’s Ontario province, has revealed growing Islamophobia in Western countries. “Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community,” he said.

The country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said three generations of Pakistani-Canadians were killed in a “brutal act of mass murder for their Muslim faith”.

“This is an act of terror rooted in unspeakable hatred and Islamophobia. Extend our deepest sympathy to the family members and pray for the recovery of the only survivor; a little boy,” he said.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Foreign Office (FO) condemned the ‘Islamophobic incident’ that resulted in the deaths of the four victims.

“The High Commission for Pakistan in Ottawa and the Consulate General in Toronto are in close contact with the relevant Canadian authorities to ascertain the facts of the case and to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to justice,” the FO statement said.

The consul general in Toronto also visited the family of the deceased to offer condolences and all possible assistance, it added.

“This tragic incident is yet another manifestation of the systematic rise in Islamophobia. The Canadian prime minister has stated that Islamophobia has no place in any of their communities. Events like these further reinforce the imperative for the international community to work together for interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence,” the statement said.

Earlier, in what described as a ‘premeditated incident’ by police officials, a man driving a pickup truck killed four members of a Muslim family in the south of Canada’s Ontario province.

International reports quoting Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department, said that a 20-year-old suspect wearing a vest “like body armour” fled the site after the incident on Sunday evening and was apprehended at a mall seven kilometres (four miles) from the crossroads in London, Ontario, where it occurred.

“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” Waight was quoted as saying.

The victims’ names have not been disclosed, but according to London mayor Ed Holder, they include a 74-year-old lady, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 15-year-old girl, who together represent three generations of the same family.

Following the attack, a nine-year-old boy was hospitalized and is now recuperating, reports said. Nathaniel Veltman, who has been identified as the culprit, has been charged with four charges of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

According to Waight, local authorities are also in contact with federal police and the attorney general about adding “possible terrorism charges.”

The attack elicited strong reactions, recalling the January 2017 mosque massacre in Quebec City and the April 2018 driving rampage in Toronto that murdered ten people. Six men were killed and five others were critically injured when a skinny 27-year-old white supremacist rushed into a Quebec City mosque and fired a spray of gunfire on attendees who were conversing after evening prayers.

On Twitter, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, expressed shock over the incident, saying that he was “horrified” by the news and that “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.” Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, said on Twitter, “justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place.”

A report published in BBC, quoted a witness, Paige Martin, saying that while she was walking, a black truck blew past her and ran a red light, and then she stumbled across the scene and saw “chaos”: “It was just absolutely like something that you never want to see.” By Monday evening, a continuous stream of mourners had arrived near the attack site, leaving flowers and offering prayers. One of the placards read: “When does it stop? Enough.”

On Tuesday night, a vigil will be held at a local mosque to honour the victims. Mustafa Farooq, the head of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, echoed the sentiment: “This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such.”

Another report while quoting the family acquaintance, Zahid Khan, said that the family had come from Pakistan 14 years ago and that they were loyal, decent, and charitable members of the London Muslim Mosque. As he spoke near the catastrophic scene, Khan cried and said, “They were just out for a walk that they would go out for every day.”


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