A drive-thru vigil will be held Friday at the Sarnia Muslim Association Mosque on London Line for the four members of a family killed, and one young member seriously injured, in London in what police allege was a hate-motivated attack.
Association president Mohammad Ali said the drive-thru event is being organized in consultation with Lambton public health.
“What happened in London was unprecedented and horrific for the entire community,” Ali said.
The association in Sarnia has been receiving phone calls “and messages of solidarity” in recent days, as well as requests for an opportunity “to let people share their grief,” he said.
Visitors will be able to drive through the mosque property at 1609 London Line from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to drop off flowers or cards, if they wish, and to stop for a moment to share their thoughts with members of the association.
The association said in a statement that its members’ thoughts and prayers are with the London family.
“The Sarnia Muslim Association on behalf of the entire Sarnia Muslim community strongly condemns this monstrous and senseless act of violence against innocent members of the Islamic faith,” the statement said. “There should be no place in Ontario or Canada for this level of hate and prejudice based on one’s religious beliefs.”
“Everybody is in grief and pain . . . coupled with insecurity,” Ali said about the impact on association members.
“Like some of you, we are unable to understand this kind of hate and anger,” the association’s statement said.
“Many of us have been in this community of Sarnia for decades with some arriving over the past few years. We have mostly felt welcome but have also dealt with the eye of suspicion and loathing.”
It added, “Despite this incident making our community feel vulnerable to walk the streets of Sarnia we still feel the overwhelming need to express our sadness at this tragedy.”
Ali said the association appreciates the support it has already received from the community.
“They have shown solidarity, unity and lots of messages on Facebook, on e-mail, cards, flowers,” he said.
“I really thank them very much for their support,” he said. “This mediates lots of pain and grief when we think that our Sarnia brothers, our Canadian brothers, are standing right beside us at this difficult time.”
Ali, who works for Imperial Oil as a project manager, said he also appreciates the support he has received from his employer. “
They are with me, standing right beside me.”
Ali estimated 175 to 200 Muslim families live in Sarnia. He said anyone struggling and in need of assistance in the wake of the Sunday evening tragedy is encouraged to reach out to the association.