Canadian man gets life for running over Muslim family | World News - Hindustan Times
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Canadian man gets life for running over Muslim family

Feb 23, 2024 11:20 AM IST

A Canadian judge has deemed the intentional running over of five members of a Muslim family in 2021 to “constitute terrorist activity.”

A Canadian judge has deemed the intentional running over of five members of a Muslim family in 2021 to “constitute terrorist activity.”

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Earlier, in a verdict delivered by a jury in November, Nathaniel Veltman, now 23, was found guilty on the charge of first-degree murder, as four of the family had died when he drove a black pickup truck on to a sidewalk and ran them over. They were identified as Talat Afzaal, 74, Madiha Salman, 44, Salman Afzaal, 46, and Yumnah Afzaal, who was just 15. A nine-year-old male boy survived the attack. The Afzaals were originally from Pakistan.

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The incident occurred in the town of London, Ontario and at the time of the tragedy, local police underscored the motivation, saying, “Investigators believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith. There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate.”

While delivering judgement on Thursday, Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance said, “I have chosen not to name the offender nor recite the hateful statements that he shared with police or in his manifesto. This is because his actions constitute terrorist activity.”

“There is no place in Canadian society for the hatred and racism that spawned the offender’s actions,” she said.

Relatives of the victims’ welcomed the ruling, as they said, in a statement, “”The terrorism designation acknowledges the hate that fuelled this fire, the ugliness that took the lives of Talat, Salman, Madiha and Yumnah. But this hate didn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrived in the whispers, the prejudices, the normalized fear of the other.”

Judge Pomerance said the attack on the Afzaal’s could be taken to be characterized “as a textbook example of terrorist motive and intent.” She added that Veltman “saw the world through the prism of racist dogma and his consumption of extremist content on the Internet fed the strength of his convictions.”

Veltman faces 25 years in prison, without the option of getting parole.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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