We grieve and condemn the recent Islamophobic terrorist attack against a Pakistani Muslim family in London on Sunday, June 6th. The attack took the lives of four members of our community, spanning three generations of a family. The sole survivor is the family’s nine-year-old son, who is severely injured. This horrific attack has been designated as a preplanned and premeditated hate crime by local law enforcement. To everyone impacted by this heartless attack, please know that we grieve with you, and that the Society stands in solidarity with our Muslim community.
This recent attack reinforces and highlights a shameful history of racism in London. It is time to acknowledge that Islamophobia is a deplorable part of our present and past. We cannot afford to continue to ignore the real impacts of racism in our own communities; we cannot hide behind the guise that things are “better” in Canada. We must take action to be anti-racist and combat the racist ideologies that have resulted from longstanding systemic efforts. We further acknowledge that one of the victims was a member of the Western graduate student community in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Their connection to Western emphasizes that our community is not immune to racism. Many of our members experience racism both in academia, at Western University, and in our London community on a daily basis. We must all take action to dismantle systemic racism to ensure that everyone can walk safely and confidently through our communities.
Islamophobia overlaps with other forms of hatred and discrimination, from anti-Black and anti-Asian racism to gender-based violence. White supremacy is not only pervasive within Western culture as a result of colonialism; it is the very historical foundation of contemporary Canadian society. While Canada is often perceived as a “safe” place for immigrants and diasporic communities, the violence and hatred of white supremacy is baked into our institutions, economic practices, belief systems, and politics. White supremacy is not limited to stereotypical hate groups; it thrives among politicians, journalists, academics, and neighbours. It is only through actively and intentionally dismantling white supremacy as an ideology that we can start to address its violence. We recognize that, as an institution designed to protect our community members, law enforcement in Canada are often complicit in allowing white supremacist groups to target Canadian Muslims and to operate in our own community.
We agree with the National Council of Canadian Muslims that this is a “terrorist attack on Canadian soil”, and should be treated as such. This includes prosecuting the attacker to the fullest extent of the law, including charges of domestic terrorism and hate crime, first-degree murder. This recent attack is all too reminiscent of attacks such as the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017 and the Toronto van attack in 2018. As recently as 2016, then Mayor Matt Brown described an Islamophobic attack on a Western student as a “wake up call.” This recent attack is a tragic reminder that we still desperately need to do more.
As leaders we must consistently call out and condemn Islamophobia in all its forms. We call on London politicians and police to develop a safe community for our Muslim neighbours and other minorities, where intercultural and interfaith differences are celebrated and free of discrimination, harassment, and hate. To do this, we ask:
- for London politicians and police to take a stronger stance against known and actively working hate groups;
- for London police to more proactively dismantle the role of white supremacy in their practices; and,
- for Londoners to come together to support our Muslim neighbours in this difficult time.
kirstyn seanor, SOGS President; Danica Facca, SOGS VP Academic; Yousuf Hasan, SOGS VP Advocacy; Becky Horst, SOGS VP Finance; Effie Sapuridis, SOGS VP Student Services; Elizabeth Mohler, SOGS Accessibility Commissioner; Ana Moyer, SOGS Gender Concerns Commissioner; Victoria Bomberry, SOGS Indigenous Commissioner; Shannon “Thomas” Carnahan, SOGS Pride Commissioner; Denise Kamyuka, SOGS Racial Equity and Inclusivity Commissioner; Mo Sharifi, former SOGS Racial Equity and Inclusivity Commissioner; Abdelmoneim El Naggar, SOGS Academic and Equity Committee member; Sohini Chatterjee, SOGS Accessibility Committee chair and Equity committee co-chair; Anmol Dutta, SOGS Anti-Racism Committee and Equity Committee co-chairs; Priscilla Edwards, SOGS Anti-Racism Committee member; Michelle Yanxue Feng, SOGS Anti-Racism Committee; Julia Garcia, SOGS Anti-Racism Committee member; Emi Iwaizumi, SOGS Anti-Racism Committee member; Deanna Walker, SOGS Anti-Racism Committee member; Mohamed Abu Gazia, SOGS Equity Committee member; Kesavi Kanagasabai, SOGS Equity Committee member; Mohammed Ellakany, SOGS Graduate Student Issues Committee chair; Varun Ravikumar, SOGS International Graduate Student Issues Committee chair; Deeplina Banerjee, SOGS International Graduate Student Issues Committee member; Courtney Neidig, SOGS Sustainability Committee chair; Mokhtar Khalifa, SOGS Councillor; Heidi Kellett, SOGS Communications and Promotions Manager; Jessica Elaine Reilly, SOGS Membership Services Manager; Raquel Rodrigues, SOGS Finance Manager; Katelyn Mitri, former PSAC 610 President; and the Canadian Federation of Students
London Community Support
- London Vigil: In honour of those killed in this horrifying act of violence and to provide a space to collectively grieve, there will be a vigil held at the London Muslim Mosque parking lot at 7 PM, Tuesday, June 8th. *Please do not park at the London Muslim Mosque parking lot as parking will be available at Cherryhill Village Mall and be mindful of distancing due to Covid-19 and wear a mask if you are able.
- Fundraiser (Salman Family Sadaqa Jariya Fund): This fundraiser is supported by Aisha Afzaal and organized by Sana Yasir. Donate HERE.
Support for Students
- Naseeha: Mental health support line for Muslim youth. Confidential support 7 days a week from 12PM – 12AM EST. @NaseehaHelpline. 1-866-NASEEHA (627-3342). Contact Naseeha HERE.
- ReachOut: Crisis support for those in the London/Middlesex area – 24/7. Phone or Text – 519-433-2023. Online web chat available – reachout247.ca
- Crisis Text Line: 24/7 crisis text support. Text 686868.
- Empower Me: Free remote mental health and wellness support 24/7 in Canada and the U.S. for Western University graduate students. Empower me is a multi-faith, multilingual service that pairs graduate students with trained professionals via telephone. Not happy with the counsellor you are matched with? Contact Empower Me to request a new counsellor based on individual preferences and needs.
- To access Empower Me, call 1-833-628-5589.
- Learn more about Empower Me HERE.
- Muslim Prayer Room: University Community Centre, Room 38A, Western University
- Toolkit on Islamophobia By and For Muslim Women
- Know Your Rights: A Guide for Muslim Post-Secondary Students
- MRCSSI – Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration
Resources and Actions for Allies
To learn more about Islamophobia in Canada:
- Learn about Muslim students’ experiences in Canada HERE.
- Read a “Gendering Islamophobia, racism and White supremacy: Gendered violence against those who look Muslim” HERE.
- Learn how to intervene responsibly as an ally HERE.
- Support the London Muslim Mosque financially, if you’re able HERE
Read the statement of support and solidarity (PDF) HERE.