As Halifax holds vigil to remember London, Ont., family, N.S. Imams call for legislation to outlaw Islamophobia


HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia Muslims gathered Wednesday evening to honour the Muslim family that police say was targeted and killed by a hit-and-run driver in London, Ont., on the weekend.

Before they did so, the Council of Imams asked the Nova Scotia government to define Islamophobia and prosecute those guilty of Islamophobic acts.

On Tuesday night, thousands turned out in London, Ont. People of different ethnicities and religions were united in support of the Muslim community in the wake of a horrific act of targeted violence that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called an act of terrorism: four members of a single family -- three generations – were run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

"Islamophobia is real," Trudeau said.

None of this is lost on Nova Scotia Imams, who've been saying it for years.

In a strongly worded statement released Tuesday night, the provincial Imam Council is calling on the province to specifically define Islamophobia, and double down on prosecuting perpetrators.

They also want a strong reporting system, with a mandate of following up with action.

They are demands primarily driven by fear.

"We have no doubt that somebody else, sometime, somewhere else in Canada, might be contemplating a similar act," said Imam Mohamed Yaffa.

Nova Scotia's opposition leader says he'd support anti-Islamophobic legislation.

"I support the ask," Houston said. "It's a very reasonable ask."

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin offered words of solidarity on Wednesday, but no promises of legislation.

"I can't imagine your pain," he said during a news conference. "I want you to know that you are not alone and Nova Scotia is with you."

There is also support in Moncton, where another vigil is in the works for Thursday night.

"The biggest thing we want to achieve is to come together and heal," said Abdal Kahn of the Moncton Muslim Association. "Talk about it, so that we can collectively share our sadness and sorrow."

As the community mourns and remembers, they hope political leadership will use its considerable-power to keep it from happening again.