Peaceful Canada, surprised by a new wave of racist crimes encouraged by social networks.


Last week a 20-year-old boy ran his truck over a family of Pakistani immigrants. He killed four people and seriously injured a 9-year-old boy. Witnesses say he was laughing at the time of the crime. Some 300 "hate groups" operate in the country recognized for their tolerance.

With movement restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, on weekends, many families in small Canadian cities take long walks through the almost deserted streets to shake off the lethargy caused by quarantines. There was a family of Pakistani immigrants waiting for the signal of a traffic light to cross an avenue in the city of London, 200 kilometers from Toronto when a truck came over them. He killed a married couple, his mother and a teenage daughter, the other 9-year-old son, is in a hospital in critical condition. It was a hate crime inspired by social media that has had the country shaking since last Sunday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that a "terrorist attack" likely incited by far-right groups that send their messages through social networks. "If someone thinks that racism and hatred do not exist in this country, how do we explain such violence? How can we look families in the eye and tell them that Islamophobia is not real?", Launched the premier in a session of Parliament. Extraordinary measures have already been announced, including creating special police units to detect extremist groups and shut down their chats "before they attack. "

The Canadian and British press speaks of a "Nazi-Christian terrorist" who, according to witnesses, laughed while committing the crime and who also laughed when he was arrested a few minutes later when he parked his truck in front of a supermarket and got off to see the bloodstains that covered the entire right side of the vehicle. He was identified as Nathaniel Veltman, a withdrawn 20-year-old who had moved to a London city center apartment a few months ago and worked on a nearby farm feeding animals. Other witnesses say he was wearing a bulletproof vest over a swastikas-painted T-shirt.

The victims made up a family rooted in the quiet city since 2007. Salman Afzaal, 46, was a physical therapist and worked in nursing homes. Madiha Salman, 44, was a doctoral student in civil engineering. They were married and had two children: Yumna, 15, and Fayez, 9, hospitalized with serious injuries. Afzaal's mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, was also killed in the bombing.

Salman and Madiha came to Canada as permanent residents 14 years ago, were actively involved in the local mosque, and were volunteers in various organizations. She had a civil engineering degree from Pakistan State University. She worked on a major hydroelectric project for three years. After obtaining a Master's degree from Western University in London, he was finishing his Ph.D. Jason Gerhard, the professor who supervised Salman's graduate work, wrote in an email that his research focused on the decontamination of soil and groundwater contaminated by toxic chemicals. His "innovative experiments," He said, showed that vegetable oil could be used in a process developed at the university to clean chemicals from the soil. The work, he added, has been commercialized and is being used to clean up contaminated industrial sites. Her husband, Mr. Afzaal, worked mainly in two nursing homes in rural communities on the outskirts of London. Jeff Renaud, the administrator of the Ritz Lutheran Village, said Afzaal kept coming throughout the pandemic when many other workers had stopped. "It helped people at the end of their lives to maintain mobility and independence for as long as possible," said Renaud. "He was an extraordinary soul."

Canada has been suffering from racist attacks on an upward scale. In January, Trudeau had commissioned Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to work with Public Security Minister Bill Blair "to take action in the fight against hate groups and hate online." A month later, he put the Proud Boys militia, which in the United States proclaimed themselves an "armed resistance" at the service of then-President Donald Trump, on the list of terrorist organizations. Christian Leuprecht, an expert on security and terrorism at the Royal Military College of Canada, told The Free Press that official data shows that "in 2018 there was a peak of attacks by these white extremists and since then they have remained at very high rates.". "In Canada, we were isolated from these phenomena for a long time, but they are here to stay, and we need to create the special political tools to deal with the phenomena of hate, violent extremism, and extremist violence," Leuprecht said.