'We came here to stand against hate': Hundreds come together in Harriston to remember Muslim family killed in London attack
KITCHENER -- Hundreds of people gathered in Harriston Monday night to honour the Muslim family killed in an attack in London, Ont. last week.
“We came here to stand against hate, and we have a message to say love is the best,” one person in attendance told CTV News.
The solidarity march was organized by the Minto Cultural Roundtable and comes in the wake of a violent attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family and left a nine-year-old boy orphaned.
The community says the gathering at the Harriston Arena ball diamond was sparked by a disturbing social media video that someone in the community posted to TikTok last week.
The video allegedly made references to the murder of the Afzaal family, while filming members of the Harriston community who organizers of the march identify as people from Syria.
Ahmad Almohamad told CTV News he knows the people in the video and reported the incident to police.
“OPP came right away and I told them, not funny,” said Almohamad.
Provincial police have confirmed that they are investigating the video, but at this point no charges have been laid.
“I can confirm Wellington County OPP have identified the individual where the video originated from. The investigation is still ongoing, our investigators have consulted with the crown attorney’s office,” said Const. Kirk Macdonald with Wellington County OPP.
Minto Cultural Roundtable chairperson Peggy Raftis said the solidarity march against hate is just a start to addressing hate in the community, not an end.
“We are very happy to see that there is support in the community and we are hoping more action will come from that and people will actually make a commitment to stand up against racism,” said Raftis.
Raftis also urged those participating in the gathering to continue their journey.
“I think the biggest thing is educating themselves and listening to the people that are marginalized and standing up against hate and calling it out and not letting people make the dumb jokes and stuff. Every small step helps,” said Raftis.
Wellington County OPP are urging people who feel targeted or concerned for their safety for any reason, to contact police.
SOLIDARITY RALLY IN CAMBRIDGE
Cambridge residents also gathered for a show of sorrow and solidarity on Monday.
The vigil was held at the Islamic Centre of Cambridge to remember the victims of the London attack and call for acceptance of people of all faiths.
Some who attended brought signs reading "We stand with our London family."
Speakers called for unity and expressed hope for the nine-year-old boy who survived the attack. They also shared frustration at continued acts of hate.
One of the speakers was an Imam from London.
"How many vigils are we going to attend before Islamophobia is eradicated from the face of the earth?" Dr. Munir El-Kassem from the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario said at the rally.
Another speaker said the Muslim community will persevere and heal through its faith.