'We want to feel safe, we want to feel loved'; Muslim community mourns as Afzaal family buried
As the procession left O'Neil Funeral Home Saturday afternoon, Londoners were there, wearing purple ribbons, and putting their hands over their hearts.
"I came here to pay my respects to the Afzaal family, to their friends and to the entire Muslim community in London," says Jeff Tennant who was standing across the street.
"It's important that the entire London community stand together against Islamophobia. I'm hoping this is a turning point for London, but we have a lot of work to do in this city."
A few feet away was psychologist Dr. Joan Clayton, who laid flowers across from the funeral home.
"I want us to stop hatred and I don't want Muslim people to be afraid to be out in public," says Clayton.
"I work with people who've been traumatized and a couple of my other patients have been victims of hate crimes in the last year. I think I have to be here to support the family."
While hundreds attended the funeral at the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario, others paid their respects and mourned from a distance.
Londoners line William St. In London, Ont. as the funeral procession for the Afzaal Family left O’Neil Funeral Home (Brent Lale / CTV News)Londoners line William St. In London, Ont. as the funeral procession for the Afzaal Family left O’Neil Funeral Home.
At the site of the fatal crash, the memorial continues to grow.
"This is a place for healing to tell the people what we feel," says Haneen Abu Dia, who left copies of the Muslim book of Qur'an for people to take and read.
"We feel bad about what happened here, and we hope it will never like have it again to anybody around the world. We want to feel safe, we want to feel loved, and we appreciate all the love we have been seeing here in London."
Dr. Sarfraz Akram, and Parveen Sarfraz attended the memorial before heading to the funeral. They were friends with Salman Afzaal, one of the victims.
"It's been very difficult," says Sarfraz.
Dr. Sarfraz Akram takes a photo of the memorial site on Hyde Park Rd. In London, Ont. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
Dr. Sarfraz Akram takes a photo of the memorial site on Hyde Park Rd. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
"It's encouraging, especially for the Muslim community over here, that everybody came together to show support over the past few days."
Dr. Akram, who lives near the memorial, says it's difficult to describe the feeling of attending the place where his friend was killed.
"In the Muslim faith our belief tells us that we have to be patient," says Akram.
"We asked help from Allah to get us from these difficult times."
Marvin Shanks has been following the story all week.
"There's a wound here that is very deep that's much more than just this tragedy," says Shanks, who walked in the multi-faith march Friday night.
"The depth of the wound is that over the centuries with regard to each other with suspicion. We've treated people that are different, as enemies.
What I really appreciated about the experience last night of being in the March, is that we were thousands of people standing together as one."
The funeral was held at the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario, celebrating the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah Salman.
All four were killed last Sunday when they were hit by a truck during one of their regular evening walks. The couple's nine-year-old son, Fayez, was the only survivor and remains in hospital with serious injuries.
After the service, a burial was held at the Islamic Cemetery of London.
Islamic Cemetery of London where Afzaal Family was buried Saturday June 12, 2021 (Brent Lale / CTV News)
Islamic Cemetery of London where Afzaal Family was buried Saturday June 12, 2021
The next step is for the healing to begin.
"It's a deep scar, and its going to take time to heal, but we love the community response, and that will help us," says Nawaz Tahir, spokesperson for the London Muslim Mosque.
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