Thousands remember fire victims in Leicester

Thursday 10 October 2013 22.59
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Dr Sattar paid thanks to huge crowd at memorial service for his wife and three children
Dr Sattar paid thanks to huge crowd at memorial service for his wife and three children
The coffins of Shehnila Taufiq and her three children were laid out in Spinney Hill Park
The coffins of Shehnila Taufiq and her three children were laid out in Spinney Hill Park
Thousands came to pay their respects to the four family members
Thousands came to pay their respects to the four family members

Thousands of mourners have attended a funeral prayer service for the wife and three children of a Dublin-based neurosurgeon who were killed in a fire at their Leicester home.

An estimated 7,000 people gathered in Leicester's Spinney Hill Park to remember Shehnila Taufiq, 47, and her three teenage children, Zainab, Bilal and Jamil.

Mrs Taufiq's husband, Dr Muhammad Taufiq al-Sattar, was among those who addressed mourners, thanking them and police for their support. 

Police today charged an eighth person with murdering the four victims after the blaze at the family's home on 13 September.

The 22-year-old man will appear before magistrates in Leicester tomorrow.

Mr Sattar told mourners: "It's a sad day, my heart is crying. I would like to thank all of you for coming.

"I know our hearts are breaking but all the brothers and sisters are with me, everybody from Leicester from all denominations, outside Leicester and throughout the world."

The funeral prayers, taking place ahead of a burial service in Dublin at the weekend, were open to the public so that members of the local community could attend.

Mr Sattar, whose wife and children were studying Islamic literature in Leicester, said the prayers had given him a sense of peace and tranquility.

He also said he had drawn strength from his religious faith since the fire and was keen to continue to work for the benefit of the wider community in Ireland.

After thanking those who attended the service for showing solidarity with his family, Mr Sattar told reporters: "I am not angry, yes my heart is broken.

"I cried a few times today carrying the coffins of my family (but) I am going to continue the work my wife and my children have left for me."

As mourners gathered on a grass area in the park before the service, Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon, of Leicestershire Police, said: "It's good to see so many people wishing to pay their respects.

"It's a tragic incident that has had a very significant impact on the local community.

"To see so many people coming together with a common purpose to pay their respects is actually quite overwhelming."

Keywords: leicester