Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the hit-and-run deaths of a Muslim family a “terrorist attack” and vowed to combat “Islamophobia.”
Police have charged a 20-year-old man with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after he allegedly carried out a targeted hit-and-run, striking a family of five “because of their Muslim faith” in a “premeditated” act.
A nine-year-old boy survived the attack and remains hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
“This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The prime minister added that the government would be taking more action to “dismantle far-right hate groups, like we did with the Proud Boys by adding them to Canada’s terror listing.”
Numerous civil rights activists have called for the killings in Ontario to be classified as a terrorist act, and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair has referred to the crime as “horrific act of Islamophobia.”
Trudeau previously addressed the attack, saying “this hate is insidious and despicable” and has “no place in any of our communities.” He added that his administration would continue to combat “Islamophobia.”
To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 7, 2021
I spoke on the phone this evening with @LdnOntMayor and @NTahir2015 about the hateful and heinous attack that took place in London, Ontario yesterday. I let them know we’ll continue to use every tool we have to combat Islamophobia – and we’ll be here for those who are grieving.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 8, 2021
Nathaniel Veltman, the accused in this case, was caught not far from the intersection where the crash occurred in London, Ontario, wearing a vest “like body armor.”
The family who died after the hit-and-run spanned multiple generations, consisting of Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah Afzaal; and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother.
“They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith,” Trudeau said of the family. “This is happening here, in Canada. And it has to stop.”