Grenfell fire: hundreds gather at mosque for funerals of five victims

Read Original

Hundreds of people have gathered in the al-Manaar mosque in west London to say funeral prayers for three women and two children who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

After the 75-minute ceremony on Friday, members of the mosque and the local community lined a narrow street close to the Westway flyover to see coffins containing the remains of the victims taken for burial at the Gardens of Peace Muslim cemetery in Hainault, Essex.

In driving rain, grieving members of the families clung to each other and wept as the coffins, draped in green cloth embroidered with verses from the Koran, were brought out of the mosque and placed in hearses.

Rania Ibrahim
 Rania Ibrahim

The remains of Rania Ibrahim, 31, and her daughters Fethia Hassan, four, and Hania Hassan, three, were found in their flat on the 23rd floor. Rania’s husband, Hassan Hassan, an employee of the mosque, was in Cairo at the time of the fire and watched his wife’s harrowing video uploaded on Facebook in real time before boarding a plane back to the UK.

Rania was identified by dental records, and her children by “anthropology and secondary supporting evidence”, Westminster coroner’s court heard. The provisional cause of their deaths was given as “consistent with the effects of fire”. The mother and daughters were identified three months after the fire on 14 June.

Isra Ibrahim, 33, and her mother, Fathia Ahmed, 71, also lived on the 23rd floor. The two women are believed to have sought refuge with Rania, who was their neighbour, as the flames and smoke advanced up the tower.

Isra Ibrahim’s brother, Abufars Ibrahim, 39, died of multiple injuries after jumping from the building, an inquest heard.

At the start of the prayers, Abdurahman Sayed, the chief executive of the al-Manaar mosque and Muslim cultural heritage centre, called on Allah to give people strength and patience as they bid farewell to loved and valued members of the community. The mosque has been a crucial pillar of support in the community in the aftermath of the fire.

Advertisement

Before the janaza, or funeral prayers, were said, an imam delivered a sermon in Arabic and English, reminding people of their “duty to stretch out the hand of help” to those in need.

In the upstairs women’s prayer area behind fretwork wooden screens, rows of women shuffled up to make room for latecomers. Even so, many prayed outside the hall in corridors and on stairs.

Dozens of vehicles, including a coach, took relatives and friends of the two families to the Gardens of Peace, one of the UK’s largest Muslim cemeteries. They were due to return to the mosque later for a reception.

The Grenfell Muslim response unit has estimated that a majority – perhaps 80% – of those living in Grenfell Tower were Muslim. The organisation has worked with Eden Care, a specialist Muslim end-of-life and burial service, to organise funerals for Grenfell victims – including non-Muslims – without charge.