‘Kind-hearted and forgiving:’ Friend describes Salman Afzaal

A long-time friend of the man killed on Sunday in London, Ont. says he still can’t believe he’s gone.

Forty-six-year-old Salman Afzaal, along with his mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, and his wife, 44-year-old Madiha Salman, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna all died after being struck by a pickup truck.

Their son, nine-year old Fayez Salman, remains in hospital.

A 20-year-old London man, Nathaniel Veltman, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the case.

“He was a big family man. He was also always at the mosque…people will always remember him for his smile, for his presence,” says Dr. Ahmed Hegazy.

Hegazy says he met Salman 14 years ago when both were newcomers to Canada.

“Salman was really a very kind-hearted and forgiving individual, he held no grudges against anybody, he always greeted people with a very warm smile, went out of his way to help people, very easy to become friends with.”

When news broke about the horrific incident on Hyde Park Road, Hegazy, who works in the Intensive Care Unit at London Health Science’s Centre’s University Hospital, says he was in shock.

“It didn’t hit me until I actually saw Salman, my friend, in the pictures, that they were talking about my friend Salman and his family. I was in disbelief. It was unreal. And, and then it hit me again that it was an act of terrorism.”

With his close friend and three other members of the family all gone, Hegazy says his attention, like others, is turning to the lone survivor, Fayez .

“He has a lot of healing to do, but I’m sure he’ll do fine. I can’t imagine the pain he will go through, the trauma, I do think though the community will stand up to support him, his uncle is in town, and the entire community is raising funds, making sure he’s taken care of….and I’m sure he’ll pull through, and he’ll be just as good as his parents, as a Canadian.”

Hegazy says the large turnout for the vigil on Tuesday night was heart-warming and he is uplifted by the support from Londoners and convinced the community will get through this together.

“This our greater London family, it means a lot to see everybody, from the churches, the synagogues, everybody in London coming to our support. It really emphasizes the fact that what happened on Sunday was not normal.

“What happened on Sunday was via very small minority in this country, who really want division, wants us to hate each other, and we’re not going to surrender to terror, we’re not going to surrender to hate. Love will win hate.”

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