HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – The air was weighed down with sorrow as the imam for a Halifax mosque strung together pieces of heart-wrenching information that devastated a refugee family, who fled to Canada in hopes of a better life.
Seven children from the family, ranging in age from four months to 15 years old, died in an early morning house fire in Spryfield, Global News reported.
“They are running away for the safety of their kids to die in Halifax,” said Ibrahim Al-shanti, the Al-Barakah Masjid Mosque’s imam.
According to police, the fire erupted shortly before 1 am and caused life-threatening injuries to the children’s father and less severe injuries to their mother. Both were taken to a nearby hospital.
The youngest victim, Abdullah, was 4 months old and the oldest, Ahmed, was 15 years old, the mosque said. The others were Rana, 3; Hala, 4; Ghala, 8; Mohammed, 10; and Rola, 12.
Pictures of the house posted online showed a gutted and blackened husk whose roof and the second floor appeared to have been destroyed. Friends of the family said they had planned to move out of the home next week.
“They are a very lovely family. They are young and I love their kids the most. They are adorable kids, but we lost them today,” Al-shanti said.
“We try to explain to [the mother] because she can’t understand what’s going on. It’s not easy for her. We try to arrange for the funeral for the kids.”
The Muslim community spent the day in the hospital supporting the grieving mother, who is unsure whether her husband will survive his injuries.
“It was close friends of the Syrian family who started getting information out right away within our groups because when we find out about a death we have to prepare for it immediately to show support and be out there for the ‘janaza,’ it’s called,” Rana Zaman said.
“It doesn’t sound real and I don’t want to think that it’s real, but the entire community is in shock and this doesn’t mean the Muslim community, I think all of the Maritimes is in shock because Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality, we’re a small community. Somebody knows somebody. You’re connected one way or another,” Zaman said.
Al-shanti said burial arrangements will be made once the bodies are released.
“I wish the people just to make prayers for them. For the father to get well so they can survive the calamity. It’s not easy, it’s not easy,” Al-shanti said.