Trudeau: Killing of Muslim Ontario family was 'an act of terrorism'

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBiden to meet with UK’s Johnson, Turkey’s Erdoğan during Europe trip Amazon takes big step in e-book deal with libraries, but activists seek more Remains of 215 children found near Canadian residential school MORE on Tuesday called the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario a “terrorist attack,” and vowed to take action against far-right  groups

“What happened on Sunday in London, this act of terrorism and Islamophobia is sickening. It is heartbreaking. It’s hard to find words that are enough. What can be said when yet another family has had their loved ones ripped away, when a child is in hospital, when a community is in mourning?” Trudeau said in a public address.

“So all I can say is this: To everyone who is grieving, who is angry, who is afraid, your neighbors, stand with you, your community stands with you. We will not let hate divide us,” he continued. “Islamophobia is real. Hatred has consequences and it must stop.”

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On Sunday, police said Nathaniel Veltman, 20, jumped a curb and drove into the Muslim Pakistani family of Syed Afzaal and his wife Madiha Salman, killing four members and hospitalizing their 9-year-old son. Authorities have said it is unclear if Veltman is part of any hate groups, but did say that the attack was planned beforehand.

Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Terrorist charges against Veltman are being explored by Canadian authorities.

In his address, Trudeau vowed to fight back against the violence seen in Ontario.

“Whether through the security infrastructure program, by cracking down on online extremism or by dismantling far-right hate groups, we will continue doing everything we can to fight violence in every form. The consequences of doing anything less are simply too great,” Trudeau said.

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In a statement released after the incident, the extended family members Afzaal and Salman said Veltman was “influenced by a group that he associated with” and called on communities to “take a strong stand against this, from the highest levels in our government to every member of the community.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called the killings a “reprehensible act of terrorism” and “a sign of the growing Islamophobia in the West, which needs to be addressed by the international community as a whole.”

On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement calling on President BidenJoe BidenBiden DOJ adopts Trump’s liability stance in E. Jean Carroll defamation suit Boston mayor fires city’s police commissioner months after domestic abuse allegations emerge Book claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election MORE to confront growing global Islamophobia in light of the attack in Canada.

“Yesterday’s anti-Muslim hate crime in Ontario, two hours away from Detroit, should serve as a dreadful reminder to the United States about the lethal danger of anti-Muslim bigotry,” CAIR Research & Advocacy coordinator Huzaifa Shahbaz said in the statement.

“Islamophobia not only manifests itself in hate crimes across the border or overseas. It permeates American institutions through harmful and hateful policies supported by wealthy anti-Muslim propaganda machines. It must be stopped,” Shahbaz added.