Muslim family killed by 20 year old truck driver allegedly for their faith
“Our hope is always in Jesus Christ. When Jesus left this earth, he left the tasks to us. He said you are to be my reflection.” Pastor Rick Boyes, Gateway Church – London, Ontario
Pastor Rick Boyes knew his church had to do something in response to the London attack that killed a Muslim family who were out for a walk last Sunday evening. The tragedy happened just a kilometre away from his church – Gateway.
To show their support with the Muslim community, Gateway Church organized a human chain from the scene of the crime to the vigil, held at a mosque that was seven kilometres away – in the other direction.
They encouraged people in the human chain to draw hearts with chalk along the route.
“James says faith without works is dead. You say you love me? Show me you love me,” Boyes told Context. “Like this human chain, we said, here’s what we’re going to do and how we’re going to show support. We begin to act out love,” added pastor Boyes.
Salman Afzaal, his mother, his wife Mahida Salman, and their two children – Yumna and Fazel were struck down and killed when a truck driver set out to kill them. The whole family perished in an instant. Except Fazel, who remains in hospital.
Police say the man accused was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it, “a terrorist attack.”
“We believe this was an intentional act. And that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted. We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” London Police Chief Steve Williams said in a press conference.
“It caught everyone off guard. There is a sense that London is not like this. It’s maybe even an arrogance, but it was certainly a wake up call. This has really rocked our community,” Boyes said.
A vigil on Tuesday night showed the outpouring of support for the Muslim community.
“There’s sadness for the loss of this beautiful family. Sadness for the fact there’s a nine year old orphan because of this,” Sheema Khan, The Globe and Mail columnist told Context.
“We’re just devastated that this could happen again, if you like – within four years [of the Quebec mosque attack]. And, there’s a lot of fear, which is fair to say, and I think, also, a lot of defiance,” adds Sheema.
But she remains hopeful. “We have a lot of healing to do in this country. Even though there seems to be a lot of grief out there, there’s a purpose. Have faith that there will be a better tomorrow.”
Pastor Boyes says hope has to come with action, “our hope is always in Jesus Christ. When Jesus left this earth, he left the tasks to us. He said you are to be my reflection.”