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Canadian white nationalist who killed Muslim family found guilty of murder

Nathaniel Veltman's case marks first time Canada's terrorism law was applied in front of a jury in a first-degree murder trial
Hate crimes against Muslims have spiked over the past decade, according to Statistics Canada (AFP)

A Canadian man inspired by white nationalism has been found guilty of the 2021 killing of a Muslim family in Ontario, Canada. 

Nathaniel Veltman, 22, had been charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for intentionally driving his truck into five members of the Afzaal family as they were taking a walk in London, Ontario, on 6 June 2021.

Veltman pleaded not guilty in the case that marks the first time Canada's terrorism law was applied in front of a jury in a first-degree murder trial. Veltman was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.

The jury returned a verdict in less than six hours at Windsor's Superior Courthouse, but did not specify whether Veltman was motivated by terrorism.

Three generations were killed in the attack including 46-year-old Salman Afzaal; his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter Yumna; and 74-year-old grandmother Talat Afzaal. The couple’s nine-year-old son sustained severe injuries but survived the collision.

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After the incident, Veltman was arrested at a nearby mall wearing body armour and a helmet. According to the prosecutor, he was overheard in the background of a 911 call saying, "It was me who crashed into them... I did it on purpose."

As he was being handcuffed, he also told police he wanted to "send a strong message" against Muslim immigration, she said.

Evidence collected by police included writings in praise of white nationalism and against mass immigration. Several knives and an air gun were also seized from his truck.

Excerpts from Veltman's manifesto, titled “A White Awakening”, were read to the jury, expressing his hatred for Islam and his opposition to multiculturalism and mass immigration.

In the manifesto, Veltman wrote, “I am a white nationalist. White nationalist is simply wanting to preserve European existence, nothing more, nothing less." 

The document calls out "globalist companies and corporatists" as well as "cancel culture" and urges the building of a society where "all white people have a sense of belonging, from the lowest blue-collar worker to the highest professional and members of government,” CBC News reported.

The manifesto says that white people are "facing genocide", "complete replacement" and crimes committed by Muslims, arguing for a "collective resistance to the anti-white hatred".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the killings were "a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred".

Other files were also found in Veltman’s thumb drive. Approximately four months prior to the incident involving the Afzaals, he downloaded footage of the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, along with the manifesto titled "A Great Replacement," authored by Brenton Tarrant.

There has been a rise in Islamophobic incidents in Canada in recent years. Observers say that the rising Islamophobia has exposed the myth of Canadian multiculturalism.

Experts previously told Middle East Eye that decades of discriminatory and racist rhetoric from politicians and the media had dehumanised Muslims, with Canadians unwilling to discard the false self-image that anti-Muslim hatred wasn't widespread and was restricted to its southern neighbour.

In August 2022, government agency Statistics Canada reported that hate crimes against Muslim communities across Canada had increased by 71 percent in 2021 alone. 

The 2021 car ramming was the deadliest anti-Muslim attack in Canada since a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017 left six dead. The perpetrator of that shooting was not charged with terrorism.

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