'I was overcome with guilt': Former London-West PC Candidate describes Islamophobia on campaign trail
A former provincial candidate for London-West has taken to social media to denounce Islamophobia he experienced on the campaign trail in the very neighbourhood where a Muslim family was run down leaving four dead and a child injured.
On Monday, Jeff Bennett, who was a candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in the riding back in 2014 explained in a social media post some of the things he says he experienced while campaigning.
“This terrorist may have been alone in that truck on that day, but he was not acting alone. He was raised in a racist city that pretends it isn’t,” wrote Bennett on a Facebook post.
Bennett explained in his post that he was following previous PC Candidate for the riding Ali Chahbar, a well-known and respected member of the community.
In an interview with CTV News Channel Bennett says he "was overcome with guilt" and knew that Chahbar was met with "very different challenges and welcomes at the door."
“’I can tell by looking at you that Jeff Bennett is a candidate I can support,’” was something Bennett says he heard all too often while door knocking in the neighbourhood.
“I would usually just thank them for their support and carry on. But it bothered me immensely. These people who’d never met me saw nothing special in me. They were happy only that my name was English and my skin was white,” wrote Bennett.
Bennett took to Facebook following the vehicle attack on the Afzaal family that left four members dead including a teenage girl, and nine-year-old boy injured in hospital.
A statement released to the media by a family spokesperson names the deceased as Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha, their daughter Yumna and Salman Afzaal's mother.
The attack happened along Hyde Park Road near South Carriage Road, in London-West.
“I knew that Ali Chahbar’s former campaign office is only 1km up the road,” said Bennett.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders have called the attack an act of terror.
Tuesday night thousands gathered to call for an end to hate in the city and immediate action on Islamophobia.
In his post Bennet explains that there were even members of his own campaign team that expressed relief over the fact that he had become the candidate.
“They, ‘Tried to volunteer a year earlier but the campaign office felt like the Middle East.’ I should have asked them to leave. I did not,” wrote Bennett.
Bennett expresses remorse and regret for what he sees as inaction within himself.
“I’ve come face to face with Anti Muslim attitudes in London Ontario and said ‘Thank you for your support.’ I’m so very sorry. I promise to do better.”
You can read the full statement from Bennett below:
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