B.C. Muslim leaders warn against hate simmering beneath surface after Ont. attack

In the wake of the alleged terrorist attack that killed four members of the same London, Ont., family, Muslim leaders in British Columbia warn that white supremacist ideologies must be confronted to prevent similar violence.

Police accuse a 20-year-old man of intentionally driving his truck into five members of the Afzaal family, killing Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna, and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother.

A nine-year-old boy survived but remains in hospital.

Nathaniel Veltman faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder – and police allege he was motivated by hate, prompting the prime minister to call it an act of terror.

"That little boy in hospital right now, he no longer has parents, he no longer has a sister...his grandmother,” said Amanee Elchehimi of the Simon Fraser University Muslim Students Association.

She went on to say the attack has brought long simmering fears to the surface for many in the Muslim community – now wary they could be next.

"Knowing that it's linked to their faith, it shifts how you walk in the world. Once again, it reminds you that as Muslim women, as Muslim people, we walk through the world knowing that we may be targeted,” Elchehimi said.

She and other Muslim leaders in the province say those who want to help can begin by calling out hate when they see it.

"If you feel attacked, or targeted, and no one stands up for you – no one's there to say that's wrong, we don't approve that, we don't accept that – then people might start think that this belief is mainstream when it is not,” said Yusuf Siraj with the Islam Unravelled Anti-Racism Initiative.

He accuses a small minority of harbouring hateful views towards religious and ethnic minorities and says their rhetoric must be confronted.

“We’re very aware that there are these undercurrents of hate, discrimination and violence not only towards Muslims, but BIPOC communities, and other religious faiths,” Siraj said.

A vigil has been organized for Thursday night at the Vancouver Art Gallery, to remember the victims, and start a conversation about challenging extremist ideologies.