Thousands gather on Sunday to march for Afzaal family

It was a Muslim-led community march to end Islamophobia and to remember the Afzaal family.

“I hope this will lead to solid changes,” said Hanni Shahatto, a former Yumnah Afzaal teacher at the Islamic School.

As the crowd moved down Oxford Street from Oakridge Secondary School to London’s Muslim Mosque on Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took center stage alongside members of the Youth Coalition Combatting Islamophobia (YCCI).

“It’s very important that people understand that we have to fight against this kind of hate so that it doesn’t happen again,” said Sofiyah Lawendy, a member of the YCCI.

Hoping to raise their voices and make a difference for a more secure future, YCCI met Trudeau ahead of Sunday’s events.

“We’re not safe on the streets,” Lawendy said. “These actions occupy spaces, not just physical spaces with spaces in our minds and in our hearts. These hate crimes must stop. Yumnah was a sister to us and part of our community.”

Sofiyah Lawendy, a member of the Youth Coalition Combatting Islamophobia (YCCI) attended the Our London Family march on June 5, 2022. (Brent Lale/CTV News)Lawendy is upset that this is a family from her hometown.

“This was a London family, and this was a Muslim family, and they were targeted because they were visibly Muslim,” Lawendy said.

Members of the Muslim community were able to join the YCCI at their meeting with Trudeau.

“I believe he heard from today’s youth that we really need them to show us the way to lead us and empower us to make positive change,” said Nawaz Tahir, HIKMA President.

“I do believe he felt the sadness, and the sadness they have, but how they translated it into a plan of action,” Tahir added.

All events that took place on Sunday and Monday were organized by young people.

They have also put together a June 6 educational pack for the Thames Valley District School Board.

Thousands gather on Sunday to march for Afzaal familyThousands of people marched down Oxford Street from Oakridge Secondary School to the London Muslim Mosque on June 5, 2022 for Our London Family events honoring the Afzaal family. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)The community wants change, but it also mourns a year ago attack, which police say was fueled by hate.

On Monday, the City of London will unveil a new memorial square and healing space on the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road, where the crash occurred on June 6, 2021.

“Most goodness comes from tragedy, and that’s what we’re trying to do. In London, Ontario,” said Dr. Munir El-Kassem of the Islamic Center of Southwestern Ontario.

“In that place, where we witnessed a tragedy, we can really reclaim that place for peace and coexistence,” El-Kassem added.

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