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Vigil for Afzaal family hears Islamophobia promises made by province and feds still unfulfilled


Two years after four members of the Afzaal Family were killed in an apparently deliberate attack, words haven’t always translated into action.

A thousand Londoners came together on Tuesday evening at a vigil at the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road — where the attack happened.

Amid the grief, there’s a growing desire for senior levels of government to follow through on commitments made to address Islamophobia in the wake of the tragedy.

“In the face of this resilience, we continue to see aggressions against Muslims,” Nawaz Tahir, chair of Hikma Public Affairs Council told the gathered Londoners.

Tahir reminded the audience that eradicating Islamophobia requires more than words.

He called for action on past promises made by the provincial and federal governments.

“Federally and provincially, many of the submissions that were made to the National Summit on Islamophobia have not been implemented,” Tahir said. “The Our London Family Act continues to sit on the back shelf somewhere at Queen’s Park.”

Developed in consultation with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Our London Family Act would:

  • A provincial review of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents in Ontario in order to reduce their occurrences.
  • Safe zones around religious institutions, which are often the targets of intimidation and hate-motivated demonstrations.
  • New tools and strategies for Ontario schools to combat all forms of racism, including Islamophobia.
  • Empowerment of the Speaker to ban protests at Queen’s Park that incite racist, homophobic, transphobic or xenophobic hate.
  • Dismantling white supremacist groups by preventing them from registering as societies.

The establishment of an Ontario Anti-Racism Advisory and Advocacy Council, to make sure racialized communities have a say on government policies that impact their lives.

In February 2022, the Ontario NDP introduced the Our London Family Act at Queen’s Park.

A day later, Premier Doug Ford was noncommittal when asked by CTV News if he and his PC government would support the NDP bill.

“We’re reviewing the legislation,” Ford said at the time. “We will review it. We will continue to work with all the communities in combating hate.”

In contrast to his frustration with senior governments, Tahir praised the municipal government’s efforts in London.

“I commend the City of London that of all the levels of government, they have stood at the forefront. They have blazed the path,” he said.

The municipality has already filled a new Muslim Community Liaison Advisor role at city hall.

The city will also use $500,000 from the province to hire an additional staff member in the city’s Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Division and support the development of an anti-hate digital public education campaign citywide.

The new online portal will consolidate a library of resources in a single one-stop location including links to upcoming events, educational tools (including bystander tips), and training resources for Londoners to access. Top Stories

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