Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has labeled as a “terrorist attack” the recent killing of four members of a Muslim family who were killed in a “premeditated” vehicle attack in the city of London, Ontario province.
Trudeau spoke in the House of Commons on Tuesday, calling the attack “a brutal, cowardly, and brazen act of violence.”
“This was no accident,” the premier said. “This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities.”
“They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith,” Trudeau said. “This is happening here, in Canada. And it has to stop.”
On Sunday evening, a driver plowed a pickup truck into a family of five, killing four of them and seriously injuring the other in an attack that targeted the victims because they were Muslims.
Police said the dead were a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 15-year-old girl. A 9-year-old boy was injured and reported in serious condition.
The victims were said to be of Pakistan-origin family living in Canada.
Trudeau also turned much of his attention to the nine-year-old boy who survived the attack.
“We all hope the little boy can recover from his injuries quickly, even though we know he will live a long time with the sadness, incomprehension and anger caused by this cowardly Islamophobic attack,” the premier said.
The Leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) Jagmeet Singh, for his part, also addressed the assault, saying “our Canada is a place where Muslims are not safe.”
“To think that a family going for a walk couldn’t make it home. To think that a casual walk around the block in our neighborhood would be one’s last. To think you can’t walk safely down your own street,” he said. “To Muslim Canadians, I’m so sorry you have to live like this, that you have to live in fear.”
He added that the threat to Muslim Canadians’ safety stems from extreme right-wing ideology, online hate and politicians’ use of Islamophobia for political gain.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair earlier described the incident as a “horrific act of Islamophobia.”
“They believe the family was targeted because of their faith, and that the attacker was motivated by his hatred of Muslims,” he said.
The Muslim Association of Canada has called on authorities to “prosecute this horrific attack as an act of hate and terrorism.”
The suspect, identified as Nathaniel Veltman, was arrested at a mall seven kilometers from the intersection where the attack happened.
The episode brought back painful memories of a Quebec City mosque mass shooting in January 2017 and a driving rampage in Toronto that killed 10 people in April 2018, among others.
Featured image: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference January 17, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by AFP)