herald

Thursday 22 August 2019

'Leave Azzam's death to gardai', says imam as hundreds mourn

The coffin of Azzam Raguragui is carried by his friends. Photo: Colin Keegan
The coffin of Azzam Raguragui is carried by his friends. Photo: Colin Keegan
Azzam’s father Abderrahmane Raguragui helps to comfort someone attending the funeral yesterday. Photo: Colin Keegan
Azzam Raguragui

Hundreds of mourners joined the family of Azzam Raguragui yesterday to say a final farewell to the teenager stabbed to death in a Dublin park.

They paid their respects to the Dundrum youngster at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, where Azzam's friends were urged not to be angry in the face of the tragedy.

The service was led by Imam Hussein Halawa, who urged young Muslims to work hard and lead good lives.

He urged them to "leave the matter of Azzam to Allah" and to the gardai and the courts who are dealing with the case.

The imam added that "death comes all of a sudden" and said that 18-year-old Azzam would be missed by all in the community.

Deeds

He extended his sincerest condolences to the family of the young man.

"What are you going to do to prepare for the place Azzam has gone?" the imam asked the young people of the community.

"You have to prepare yourself. Leave the matter to gardai and the courts, who are working hard. Being angry will not help.

"Do good deeds."

As Friday is a sacred day in Islam, Imam Halawa said, Azzam "travelled to his Lord on the best day".

Azzam's body was taken to Newcastle Cemetery after the service.

Transport Minister Shane Ross and Garda Superintendent Martin McGonnell were among the mourners.

Supt McGonnell said that the community was rallying round Azzam's parents.

"I think at least the community will back up the family through a very, very difficult time now and into the future," he said.

"We are following lines of inquiry and I have to pay tribute to our investigative team who are doing great work."

Mr Ross said that what had happened was a tragedy.

He had been at the centre just two weeks ago for a very different reason, delivering a talk on road safety.

"It's so sad, it's a tragedy. It's absolutely awful for everybody," he said. "I just met his mother and father and it is just awful.

"You always worry about [your children] but you never think it will happen. I am here to sympathise with the parents today."

Ahmed Hassain, the cultural centre's director of administration and finance, said that the Friday prayer had been much busier than usual with the funeral, with attendance 40pc higher than the normal.

He said of Azzam's parents Hajiba Elouaddaf and Abderrahmane Raguragui: "They're coping - but not sure in the long run.

"They're getting lots of support from everybody. But when things calm down, they will feel the loss."

The service also remembered DIT business professor Amr Arisha, who has died from cancer in his 40s.

Azzam, described as respectful and cheerful, was fatally stabbed eight days ago after a row in a Dundrum park.

Detectives ruled out a racial motive for the attack.

Gardai have spoken to a teen who is the chief suspect in the killing.

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