Around 2,000 mourners attended the funeral on Saturday of seven children from a Syrian refugee family who died earlier this week in a house fire in Halifax, eastern Canada.
Ahmad Barho and siblings Rola, Mohammed, Ola, Hala, Rana and Abdullah – whose ages ranged from four months to 15 years – all perished in the as-yet unexplained blaze at their home on Tuesday.
Their father, Ebraheim Barho, suffered serious burns and remains in a medically induced coma in hospital, according to Canadian media. Their mother, Kawthar Barho, was less seriously injured. She was present at the funeral.
“I’ve attended many funerals but nothing like this, so please bear with me,” said Sheikh Hamza, who spoke at the moving ceremony, struggling to overcome grief.
The Barho family arrived in Canada in 2017, and were among an estimated 40,000 refugees received by the country since 2015.
The funeral, broadcast on several news channels, was carried out according to Muslim tradition.
Due to the number of people attending, it took place not in a mosque but in a cavernous hall on the Halifax waterfront, with all 2,000 seats full.
“We have all been affected by this tragedy,” the Nova Scotia lieutenant governor, Arthur Leblanc, said.
Member of parliament Andy Fillmore said authorities were working to bring other members of the Barho family to Canada to support Kawthar Barho.
The tragedy provoked an outpouring of sympathy across Canada, with a fundraiser for the family bringing in nearly half a million Canadian dollars ($380,000) in just a few days.
The seven small white coffins were accompanied by a guard of honor before being transported to a Muslim cemetery near Halifax.