Canada charges suspect with terrorism for truck attack on Muslim family

Published June 14, 2021
The attack has fuelled debate about the prevalence of Islamophobia in Canada and heightened fears within the Muslim community that outward signs of religious affiliation can make a person a target. — AFP/File
The attack has fuelled debate about the prevalence of Islamophobia in Canada and heightened fears within the Muslim community that outward signs of religious affiliation can make a person a target. — AFP/File

Canada is pressing terrorism charges against a man accused of mowing down a Muslim family with a pick-up truck, prosecutors said on Monday, in an attack denounced as “terrorist” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Four members of the Pakistan-origin Afzaal family — a man and his wife, their teenage daughter and his mother — were out for a walk in London, Ontario on June 6 when a truck driver ploughed into them on purpose, according to authorities.

Prosecutors revealed in a brief hearing that they were adding terrorism charges to the four counts of premeditated murder and one of attempted murder levelled last week against 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman.

“The federal and provincial attorneys general provided their consent to commence terrorism proceedings, alleging that the murders and the attempted murder also constitute terrorist activity,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement after the hearing.

Veltman, who has no criminal record and no known link to any extremist group, told the court via video link that he does not have a lawyer. He has yet to enter a plea.

The Afzaals' nine-year-old son survived the attack in their neighbourhood in the city of London, around 125 miles (200 kilometres) southwest of Toronto, but was seriously injured.

“This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities,” Trudeau said during an impassioned speech at the House of Commons.

The attack has fuelled debate about the prevalence of Islamophobia in Canada and heightened fears within the Muslim community that outward signs of religious affiliation can make a person a target.

It was the deadliest anti-Muslim attack in Canada since a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City that had killed six people in 2017.

Opinion

The curse of irrelevance
24 Jul 2021

The curse of irrelevance

Fear, in essence, is a powerful de-motivator for those who believe their success lies in lazy public validation...
Good & bad Muslims
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Good & bad Muslims

It is essential to interrogate the wider epidemic of violence.
The Afghan stalemate
Updated 21 Jul 2021

The Afghan stalemate

The Taliban cannot think of ruling Afghanistan without international legitimacy.

Editorial

Cyberattack on rights
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Cyberattack on rights

A COLLABORATIVE investigation into a data leak of software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group has ...
24 Jul 2021

Sleeper cells

THERE was a time not too long ago when militant groups had unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistan, resulting in...
24 Jul 2021

Prisoners’ return

THE families of 62 Pakistani prisoners who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia had reason to rejoice this Eid as...
India’s admission
Updated 24 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.