That hatred against Islam and its followers in the West has assumed terroristic proportions is not debatable. While countries like Germany, France, the UK and the US have long been reporting hate-based crimes against Muslims, those that are considered no-crime zones — like Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Canada — are now not safe for Muslims. At a time when the horrific, heart-wrenching memories of the Christchurch massacre had yet to fade from the senses, the premeditated killing of four members of a family of Pakistani origin in Canada has added to the concerns of Muslims the world over.
The family loved to walk — and socialise. They would walk almost every evening. But their outing on the previous Sunday turned out to be their last. While this Canadian-Pakistani family of five was waiting to cross a street in the London neighbourhood of Ontario in Canada, a truck driver, 20, intentionally ran over them just because they were Muslims. Nine-year-old Faez Afzaal is the only survivor of this act of Islamophobia, though with serious, non-life threatening injuries. Faez lost his whole family — his father Syed Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; his sister Yumnah Afzaal , 15; and his 74-year-old grandmother.
True that Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, has acknowledged it to be a “terrorist” act and made it loud and clear that “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities”. It’s appreciable that the local police have no hesitation in describing the incident as a “planned, premeditated act motivated by hate” and that the mayor has called it an “act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims. Pretty timely as well is the UN secretary general’s reaction that carries a call for all to “stand united against Islamophobia and all forms of hatred, now more than ever”.
However, all this has failed to stop the rising trend of Islamophobic attacks in the Western world. It’s now time to take some concrete action. There is now need for the world to adopt laws binding on the global population, apart from devising social mechanisms, to stop this growing violence against the followers of Islam. The Muslim Ummah too needs to take serious steps to bring the issue on the top of the world agenda.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10h, 2021.