UWindsor education student Ghallia Hashem says she was honoured to be asked to speak at a gathering on Windsor’s riverfront Monday to commemorate the Afzaal family, killed a year ago in London in what police have termed an act of anti-Muslim violence.
“Everything I want to be in life, they embodied,” says Hashem, noting the Afzaal family’s commitment to education, service, faith, and advocacy. “We need to make sure people remember the positive impact they had in their community.”
She has been active in Windsor’s Islamic community and was approached by organizers of the June 6 event to address attendees.
“There is an individual responsibility on each and every one of us to challenge this form of racism and discrimination wherever it is encountered,” Hashem said to dozens gathered in the Bert Weeks Memorial Garden.
“Today we honour those that we lost because of the ignorance and intolerance of others. Today is a reminder to us all to be better, to do better, to look to grow not only for our betterment, but for the greater community.”
Her remarks were highlighted in coverage by CBC News; see the story and video of her presentation.
Hashem says she hopes the incident will serve as a call to fight Islamophobia and hate: “The one message I want to leave people with is that bad things are going to happen and it’s our response that determines what’s going to happen in the future.”