At the public funeral on Saturday, mourners looked down at four coffins — each draped in a Canadian flag — being pushed onto the podium.
In the hot weather, crowds filled a parking lot of the Islamic Center in southwestern Ontario and rushed to the adjacent football field, where they gathered to listen, pray and say goodbye to what the police said six days ago. Attacks motivated by hatred.
Saturday’s funeral was followed by a private funeral in an Islamic cemetery in London.
Before their deaths, the four members of the Afzaal family lived what many believed was the embodiment of the Canadian dream. The family came to Canada from Pakistan in 2007 and became a well-loved family. They have achieved incredible achievements no matter what anyone measures.
Madiha Salman, 44, is studying for a PhD in environmental engineering. Her 46-year-old husband, Salman Afzaal (Salman Afzaal), is a physiotherapist who works with the elderly. 15-year-old Yumna Afzaal is an honor student. She painted a mural in the corridor of the school, calling on her classmates to “shoot for the moon.”
Salman’s 74-year-old mother, Talat Afzaal, was also killed in the attack. The youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez, is the only one who has survived, recovering from serious injuries in the hospital.
The five of them went out for a walk at night Knocked down by a pickup truck The police believed that this was an intentional act. A 20-year-old London man was detained and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
The fact that the police believed that the family was targeted because of their Muslim beliefs exacerbated the pain of the tragedy.
Relatives say that the overture of support is the first step to healing
At Saturday’s funeral, Madiha’s uncle Ali Islam said that the tragedy had taken away “four sweet springs”.
But he said that in the days after the tragedy, the support of the 30,000 powerful Muslim community in London and elsewhere showed that people’s love far exceeds hatred.
“As this week progressed, we realized that our extended family is much larger than we thought,” he told the crowd. “The expressions of primitive emotions, prayers, quiet tears, and comforting messages from people we know and complete strangers are the first step in finding a cure.
“As long as we are alive, the memories of our family will be in our hearts.”
Islam calls for kindness and sympathy for their deaths. “I ask you to take a moment to learn from someone who looks different from you,” he said.
In his eulogy, he also cited Yumner’s murals. “Be brave, shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you can fall into the stars.”
Call for a solution to Canada’s Islamophobia
Saturday’s funeral was the culmination of a week of grief following a tragedy that sparked painful discussions about Islamophobia in Canada.
If the Afzaals’ lifestyle embodies the Canadian dream, then their death highlights that what many Muslims say has become too common, even before the attack on Sunday.
Like Madhia’s uncle, Rayyab Rashid said that he hopes that their deaths will continue to be discussed, so as to bring about positive changes and resolve Islamophobia in Canada. Rashid and his family drove two hours from their home in Toronto to London to experience what he called “harmony in pain,” which he said is vital to recovery.
Just like Afzaals, Rashid and his wife immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in the 2000s to live a better life-despite some incidents this week, he thinks this is still possible.
“Their story is almost our story,” he said of Afzaals. “Our children are Canadian, and we proudly raised them to be Canadian Muslims. For me [the message of] This service is “We are all together, no matter what faith it is.”
“So we need to find a collective solution.”