Reporting by Ismail Shakil and David Ljunggren, Editing by Mark Potter and Nick Zieminski
A Canadian white nationalist has been convicted of killing four Muslims in a truck attack
OTTAWA (Reuters) – A 22-year-old white Canadian who admitted to being a white nationalist who deliberately ran over and killed four members of a Muslim family in his truck in 2021 was found guilty on Thursday of first-degree murder.
The killing shocked Canada, a country that encourages mass immigration and prides itself on its multiculturalism.
The jury took about six hours to convict Nathaniel Feltman, who attacked the family in the London city of Ontario. He faces life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Prosecutors said the attack was an act of terrorism, noting that Feltman wrote a manifesto titled “White Awakening” in which he articulated his hatred of Islam and opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism.
Five members of the Afzal family, originally from Pakistan, were out for an evening walk in June 2021 when Feltman ran them over with his truck on the sidewalk.
The victims are Salman Afzal, 46 years old, his wife Madiha Salman, 44 years old, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and Afzal’s mother, Talaat, 74 years old.
The couple’s nine-year-old son was seriously injured. Feltman, who admitted shortly after the assault, saying, “I did it. I killed those people,” was also found guilty of attempted murder.
Abdel Fattah Tawakkol, imam of the London Islamic Mosque, said: “Today’s ruling is a huge step in the fight against hatred and Islamophobia. It sets a precedent against white nationalist terrorism.”
Feltman’s lawyer, Christopher Hicks, said his client was shocked, but did not say whether he would appeal the ruling. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the sentencing hearing will be held on December 1.
It was the worst attack against Canadian Muslims since a man shot six worshipers at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.
“The enduring grief, shock and irreparable void left by the loss of multiple generations has affected us deeply,” Tabinda Bukhari, Madiha Salman’s mother, told reporters.
“This trial and sentencing are a reminder that there is still much work to be done to address hate in all its forms that lives in our communities.”
Feltman has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. His defense, citing what it described as Feltman’s mental challenges, said the actions amounted to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
“I am a white nationalist,” Feltman wrote in the statement and said white people “are facing genocide.” Prosecutors said he repeatedly watched video of a mass shooting by a white supremacist in New Zealand, which left 51 people dead.
Canada has seen a sharp rise in hate crimes targeting religion, sexual orientation and race since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said last year.
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