MONTREAL -- Quebec's minister responsible for the fight against racism, Benoit Charette, was booed for several minutes Friday night when he spoke at a vigil organized to pay tribute to the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. last Sunday.

Before hundreds of people gathered in Montreal's Parc-Extension neighbourhood, Minister Charette was heckled from the moment he was introduced to the crowd, so much so that organizers took the microphone again to try to calm the agitation and discontent in the audience, but to no avail.

"Dear friends, we may have some points of difference, but let's not forget why we are here," Charette said in an attempt to ease the tension.

But disgruntled citizens continued to be vocal during the minister's six-minute speech.

In the crowd, some citizens were holding up messages against Bill 21 or The State Secularism Act, which seemed to be the reason for the protesters' animosity towards the CAQ minister.

The vigil was organized by the Canadian Muslim Forum, which is fiercely opposed to Bill 21, which bans religious symbols for certain people in authority.

Mayor Valérie Plante, mayoral candidate Denis Coderre, and federal ministers Pablo Rodriguez and Mélanie Joly also attended the vigil. 

The ceremony was to honour the memory of Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Salman, 15, and the teenager's grandmother, Talat Afzaal, 74.

London attack victims

Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna Afzaal and Afzaal’s 74-year old mother Talat were killed June 6 as they were out for an evening stroll. Nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal survived, but remains in hospital. (File)

Police allege that the four were killed after being hit by a car in a planned attack that targeted Muslims.

The couple's nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously injured but is expected to recover.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the attack.


In Quebec City, the scene was much calmer as dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil the mourn the killings of the Afzaal family.

Members of the National Assembly, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, and members of the Muslim community spoke at the gathering outside the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, the same site of a terrorist attack that killed six Muslim men in 2017. 

The city’s mayor denounced the attack on the Afzaal family and called on others to do the same.

"This horror has a reason. This horror has a source, and that reason is our collective silence. A silence that is almost taken in and also, unfortunately, strongly accepted,” Labeaume said.

“So, I will tell you, the mayor of this city, like others, I refuse to be silent and this refusal must permeate us, which must flow through our veins, it must contaminate our communities. The beginning of the solution, I believe, will come from this refusal.”

Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé noted it was touching to be there with the crowd, but for all the wrong reasons.

“I offer you all the love in my heart because that’s what is missing: love,” she said. “You know, like I do, this expressed hate in the act that took place a few days ago, it’s not everyone who carries this hatred.”

She rallied the crowd to enact change and said there was already proof of that with the show of solidarity in the crowd.

With files from CTV Montreal's Joe Lofaro