'Islamophobia is real': Victims of London, Ont. vehicle attack mourned at vigil

vigil

Thousands gathered for a vigil mourning the four Muslim family members killed in what police say was a targeted attack in London, Ont., with politicians and community leaders condemning Islamophobia in Canada and promising change.

Just before a moment of silence, a family friend of the victims spoke a few words about her young friend, Yumna, who was killed in the attack.

“My sister would not have wanted us to live in fear with wearing our hijabs, she would have wanted us to be proud of our identities,” said Yasmin Khan.

“She would have wanted us to unite together, to stand for what is right, she would have wanted us to be kind to one another. That's all I ask. Take pride in your hijab and your religion, be humble and be kind.”

A statement released to the media by a family spokesperson names the deceased as Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna, and Salman Afzaal's mother.

The couple's son, Fayez, 9, survived the attack. He "is on the road to recovery from serious injuries," the statement reads.

Nathaniel Veltman, a 20-year-old London man, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with Sunday's attack. London police said Tuesday that they have been in contact with the RCMP and would not comment on whether further charges may be laid.

"While we understand the public’s desire for information, we are mindful that there are serious charges before the courts and that we must let the judicial process unfold," they said in a statement.

Police allege that Veltman was driving a pickup truck that mounted a curb and hit the family, who were out for a walk. Police said Monday that they were not aware of any connections between Veltman and the Afzaal family, or any link between the suspect and organized hate groups.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described Veltman's actions as "a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred."