Just over a week ago, a Muslim family was hit and killed while out for an evening walk in London Ontario. Following the hateful crime, communities across the country have gathered in solidarity to remember. The Muslim Association of Lethbridge hosted a vigil last night to honour the four members who were killed.
Community members gathered Monday evening to pay their respects to the Muslim family killed in Ontario. Organizers say the vigil has brought out people of all backgrounds to show their support to the Muslim community.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of Islamophobia, that it does exist in the Canadian society and that we all need to do our part and stand up against Islamophobia,” says Saddam Khanzada, the organizer of the vigil and secretary of the Lethbridge Muslim Association.
In attendance was Mayor Chris Spearman, Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh, MP Rachel Harder and many others.
Members of the Muslim community have expressed they’re concerns and safety when going out into the community. Abdelbasat Aborawi, President of the Lethbridge Muslim Association says he has dealt with members directly who are afraid to go out.
“My family – I have three [daughters] and my wife, they all wear Hijab and they’ve never been a subject of discrimination, harassment, or anything like that. But, I do hear from my own community that they are scared, that they are afraid to go for a walk.”
In response, Chief Mehdizadeh, along with four other constables met last week to reassure the Muslim community that they are safe in Lethbridge
“On Tuesday morning we received a phone call from the Lethbridge Police Department, early in the morning they reached out to us offering they’re support, offering they’re condolences and assuring us that we are safe here in Lethbridge,” says Khanzada.
Organizers say education will play a huge role in stopping these kinds of hate crimes.
“It’s going to take years to get this under control, so I think we should somehow start as individuals, as politicians, leaders, we should start. The most important and most effective point is going to be education,” Aborawi.
Prosecutors have upgraded the charges against the 20-year-old man accused of killing the family of four. Nathaniel Veltman was facing four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is now also facing terrorism charges.