MISSISSAUGA, Ont. â€” A cousin of the Ontario woman killed in the New Year’s Eve terrorist attack in Turkey says his family feels empty without her.
Ammar Abdul-Raheem spoke outside the memorial service of Alaa Al-Muhandis Sunday, who was one of 39 people killed when a gunman opened fire at an Istanbul nightclub during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Abdul-Raheem said his cousin, a 29-year-old mother of two, always tried to be there for her loved ones.
He said she loved art, fashion, and everything that sparkles.
â€œJust like anything that sparkles, how it brightens a room up and brings joy to everyone, thatâ€™s who Alaa was to us.â€
Cars filled the parking lots and lined the street outside a Mississauga, Ont., banquet hall as mourners gathered for the service.
Outside of the hall, a picture of Al-Muhandis was surrounded by wreaths, flowers and candles.
The service was closed to media, but a close friend of Al-Muhandisâ€™s father, Kemal Degistani, said the hall was packed past its 300-person capacity.
He said the whole Iraqi-Canadian community came together to mourn.
â€œItâ€™s tragedy,â€ he said â€œWeâ€™re all affected since day one.â€
Basim Yousif, who did landscaping at Al-Muhandisâ€™s home and her familyâ€™s businesses, said he felt like he lost a family member.
He remembered Al-Muhandis as a kind woman, who let all the neighbourhood kids play in her backyard.
â€œShe left them to play, to make noise, whatever,â€ he said.
He said the familyâ€™s home and businesses are out of the way for him, but he happily made the trip because he loved working with them.
Hasan Rahim had lost touch with Al-Muhandis, but he remembered time they spent together walking home from high school.
â€œShe was hyperactive,â€ he said. â€œShe liked to talk. She was a sociable kind of person.â€
â€œInnocent people keep getting killed,â€ he added. â€œI have no words to explain the situation.â€
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version contained the incorrect spelling of Kemal Degistani