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Local Imam grieves 'horrific terrorism' of London attack

'This shouldn’t happen to anyone, no matter your religion, race or beliefs. Everyone is hurt by this. We stand together against hate,' says official

The horrific attack on a Muslim family in western Ontario has left the local Muslim community grieving and reaching out to lend support to those devastated by the news. 

Four members of the same family were killed Sunday in London when a man drove his pickup truck into them as they waited to cross the road on an after-dinner walk. 

A father (46), mother (44), daughter (15) and grandmother (74) were all killed while a nine-year-old boy remains in hospital with serious injuries. 

A 20-year-old London man was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.

It has since been determined the man drove into the family because they were Muslim.

Barrie Mosque Imam Mateen Butt told BarrieToday that while he is dealing with the act as a faith leader, he is also dealing with it as a former member of a nearby community. 

“I was born and raised in the Cambridge and Kitchener area. This is just terrifying,” said Butt. “Absolutely there is praying needed, but there is also some kind of action needed from the political level.

"We need to all work together to find ways for this to stop and never happen again. This was terrorism, horrific terrorism.”

Butt said that while he knows racism exists in Canada, he views the country as a peaceful one and wants better for everyone, not just Muslims.

“This shouldn’t happen to anyone, no matter your religion, race or beliefs,” said Butt. “We here in Barrie are grieving with community members in London, but not just Muslims. Everyone is hurt by this. We stand together against hate.”

The Barrie Mosque, along with the London Mosque, other London Muslim organizations, with the support of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, have provided information to their communities about supports.

There will be a vigil tonight at 7 p.m. at the London Muslim Mosque parking lot. The event will be live-streamed on Instagram and Facebook, with links to be made available soon at the London Muslim Mosque Facebook page.

Butt said Muslim leaders in the province will be calling for an immediate National Action Summit on Islamophobia, where federal, provincial, and municipal/territorial leaders would come together to take immediate action on dismantling both violent forms of Islamophobia and systemic Islamophobia.

Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman told BarrieToday Tuesday morning the attack was “an act of mass murder,” and that it showed we are not immune to hate attacks in Canada. 

“I'm just heartbroken for the nine-year-old who is the only survivor of his family. I know Barrie Police are in frequent touch with the mosque to ensure they're aware of any threats received and to support them in our community,” said Lehman.

“Fighting hate in Canada though is something everyone needs to commit to, from speaking out against small acts of racism to protecting communities targeted by hate.”

Butt was thankful for the first responders who tried to save lives at the scene and said that, plus the many well wishes from the community, are “good things.”

He admitted though, that as a father to a five-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, it has made for difficult conversations.

“Last night, my wife and I were talking and she just was trying to understand how someone could hate so much they would commit this act - to hurt and kill anyone, especially children,” said Butt. “There are no words, truly, none. This is devastating to those committed to the Islamic faith but then to try to explain to young family members is impossible.”

The London Muslim Mosque is asking Canadians and allies abroad to change their social media profile pictures to include the Green Ribbon Against Islamophobia, using the hashtag #OurLondonFamily. 

The London Muslim Mosque will also be providing community mental health supports, with details to follow on their social media pages. 

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Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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