Beginning Tuesday’s Lac La Biche County council's regular meeting, councillors supported Mayor Omer Moghrabi’s motion to condemn Sunday’s killing of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario. The four were walking on a sidewalk when they were struck by a van driven by a 20-year-old man. The attack also left a nine-year-old member of the family in hospital.
“This was a cowardly act of hatred, and an example of the racism that many throughout Canada still experience. Racism, Islamophobia and the violence that results need to be stamped out once and for all,” noted Moghrabi in a statement on behalf of the council and community.
The Lac La Biche region has been recognized as one of Canada’s largest per capita Muslim populations, with many current residents tracing their family’s relocation from Lebanon to Lac La Biche more than 100 years ago.
The hit-and-run affected three generations of the Afzaal family. While on an evening stroll the family was slammed into by a vehicle, killing Alman Afzaal, his wife Madiha and their daughter Yumna, along with Yumna's grandmother. The only survivor of the collision was he Afzaal’s nine-year-old son who was taken to hospital to be treated for serious injuries.
“Our hearts are with the family and friends of those who passed away, and we wish the child in hospital a speedy recovery,” Moghrabi noted.
According to Ontario Police the attack was hate-motivated, intentional and related to the family’s Muslim faith. The unidentified driver of the pickup was arrested about 10 minutes away from the scene of the crime the same evening and remains in custody. He is facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Acknowledging the pain felt by Muslim and Ontario communities in the wake of this senseless tragedy, Moghrabi hopes for a more tolerant future.
“We must remember that Canada is at its best when we not only tolerate but also celebrate and value one another's differences,” he stated.
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