Knowing that life would never be the same for the 9-year-old lone survivor of the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. terrorist attack, a Muslim charity is working to make sure the boy is not left alone.
The outpouring support for the Muslim community after the terrorist attack made Islamic Relief Canada create its Letters of Hope for Fayez Afzaal initiative.
The initiative allows members of the community to share messages of hope and support to the young boy until end of the day of Friday.
“The Muslim community has been heartbroken over this attack and we’ve all been collectively grieving the Afzaal and Salman family’s loss. We know it’ll be particularly challenging for Fayez, that’s the nine-year-old boy, in the years ahead and our hearts just go out to him,” Sanam Islam with Islamic Relief Canada told Global News.
“Members of the community were reaching out to us saying they wanted to help him in some way and show their support. So one of our team members came up with the idea of collecting messages from the community to compile in a book that we can then have given to him.”
Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Salman, 44, Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed Sunday, June 6, when Nathaniel Veltman, 20, used a black pick-up truck to jump a curb and strike them.
Fayed suffered serious injuries but has since been released from the hospital and is said to be surrounded by extended family as he continues his physical recovery.
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Those wishing to contribute to the book of letters were asked to provide hopeful, inspirational messages to the young Muslim.
“We’re focusing on positive, encouraging messages that sort of stay away from reminding him of his loss. Basically, we want to focus on encouragement rather than grief at this point for him,” Islam said.
“We’re actually going to be reviewing the messages and just make sure they’re appropriate and then compiling them in a book that we’ll be giving to the London Muslim Mosque, who will then be giving it to Fayez’s guardians, we hope, by July.”
Islam says by midday Wednesday they had already received over 400 messages.
A crowdfunding campaign in support of members of the victims’ family had already raised more than C$ 1,187,954 since the attack.
The attack comes amid rising concerns about Islamophobic attacks in provinces across Canada and widespread calls for authorities to tackle racism, hate-motivated violence, and the prevalence of far-right groups.
Statistics Canada said in March that police-reported hate crimes targeting Muslims “rose slightly” to 181 incidents in 2019 – the last year for which the data is available. That is up from 166 incidents the previous year.