Quebec's National Assembly passes motion denouncing Islamophobic attack in London

The National Assembly offered its condolences Tuesday to nine-year-old Faez Afzaal, the only survivor of the Islamophobic attack on his family Sunday night in London, Ont.

Quebec politicians passed a motion condemning "unequivocally any violence motivated by ideological beliefs" and observed a minute of silence in memory of the four victims.

Nathaniel Veltman, a 20-year-old London man, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. He is alleged to have deliberately driven his Dodge Ram pick-up truck up a sidewalk and struck the Pakistani family before fleeing.

Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault said the attack was "unspeakably cowardly and barbaric." Quebecers understand only too well the pain it causes, she said.

"This tragic event rekindles a wound here at home, when a few years ago we lived through the attack on the mosque in Quebec City, which claimed six victims, victims of hatred of the other, too," said the minister.

She said she had a thought for all Quebecers of Muslim faith: "Know that we are by your side and that we will never accept this hatred," she said.

But above all, the thoughts of the elected officials were directed to Faez, who will have lost his father, a physiotherapist, as well as his mother, a doctoral student in civil engineering, his 15-year-old older sister, and his grandmother.

"On June 6 in London, life stopped. It will have for Faez (...) a before and an after. This after will require... a long recovery to regain his physical, emotional and mental health," said Liberal MNA Monsef Derraji.

"I would like us to convey to Faez a message of compassion and hope, that together we tell him that on the other side of the border, there is a Parliament that has also stopped for a moment to think about him. (...) Faez, we are with you," he added.

Pointing out that little Faez was the age of his own son, the MNA Andrés Fontecilla, from Québec Solidaire, called to denounce "loudly and collectively and tirelessly these acts of unspeakable violence."

"While the authorities investigate, let's ask ourselves some 'hard questions,'" he said: "Why are so many young white men with guns... doing such unbelievable violence against Muslim communities in particular?"

"What is the connection between this violence and the hateful and Islamophobic discourse that we still hear too often in our media, digital space and even sometimes around a family meal?" asked Fontecilla.

For her part, the PQ MNA for Gaspé, Méganne Perry Mélançon, said that Quebec was responding to the attack with a "call for unity."

A vigil is planned for Tuesday evening at the mosque frequented by the family in London.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 8, 2021.

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