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Police accuse Nathaniel Veltman of killing a Muslim family in London, Ontario, “because of their Islamic beliefs”.

A man accused of stabbing down a Muslim family this month in the Canadian city of London, Ontario, killing four people, including a teenage girl, is now charged with terrorism, authorities said Monday .

The London Police Department said in a statement that the four first-degree murder cases of Nathaniel Veltman “constitute terrorist offenses” and that federal and provincial prosecutors have agreed to initiate terrorism proceedings.

Veltman is alleged to have deliberately hit five members of the Afzaal family with a pick-up on an evening walk on June 6th.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and their 74-year-old grandmother Talat Afzaal were killed in the attack, while the couple’s nine-year-old son was seriously injured.

Veltman is also facing charges of attempted murder, which the authorities said on Monday was also a “terrorist activity”.

The 20-year-old, who reported to the court via video on Monday, still has to appeal.

Torpenky Khan looks at a street sign that was destroyed at the spot where the Afzaal family was hit by a driver in London, Ontario [Brett Gundlock/The Canadian Press via AP Photo]

Police said Veltman attacked the family “because of their Islamic beliefs”.

The attack rocked Muslim communities across Canada that have been calling for action against Islamophobia and bigotry for years, particularly after a deadly mass shooting of a mosque in Quebec City in January 2017.

Saboor Khan, a family friend, told the Associated Press that the charges against Veltman were “right”.

“The family and community have been terrorized and many of us are afraid to leave our homes,” said Khan.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a national advocacy group, said Monday that the terrorism allegations were “an important development,” but wanted more to come later.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also responded to the new allegations, saying: “It is really important for us to call it an act of terror … and it is important for us to recognize the terrible threat that white supremacy poses to Canada and Canadian.”

A funeral for the Afzaal family drew hundreds of mourners to the Islamic Center of Southwestern Ontario over the weekend.

Raza Bashir Tarar, High Commissioner for Pakistan in Canada, said during the service on Saturday that the entire nation of Pakistan – where the family was originally from – “stands shoulder to shoulder with you in this hour of grief, in this time when our hearts are in bleed because of the atrocities that happened to this wonderful, wonderful family ”.

Thousands of supporters also marched from the location where the family was killed to a mosque 7 km away.

Yet many members of Canada’s Muslim community remain frightened. Selma Tobah, a 31-year-old graduate student who lives in London, told Al Jazeera last week that many community members feel that “we could have been any of us”.

The demands for concrete measures to eradicate Islamophobia are also increasing.

The NCCM last week called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration to host a National Summit of Action on Islamophobia “to show a path for Canada to end violence against Muslims.”

The country’s Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger, responded to the call on Friday, saying the government would “hold a series of summits, including a national summit on Islamophobia, to coordinate further action”.

Veltman’s next trial is scheduled for June 21st.

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news.google.com

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