Elham Asaad Buaras
At least 30 of the 84 victims killed in the terror attack in Nice, France, were Muslim, according to the Union des Musulmans des Alpes Maritimes [Union of Muslims of the Alpes-Maritimes].
UMAM President, Otmane Aissaoui, also confirmed that among the disproportionate number of Muslims killed on July 14, are 20 people of Tunisian descent, the same as the killer Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who plowed his 19-ton truck through people enjoying the Bastille Day firework celebrations, before he was shot and killed by police.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Boubakr Bekri, head of the regional Council for the Muslim Faith, said he personally knewe of at least 12 Muslim families who lost loved ones in the Promenade des Anglais attack.
Even before the names of the deceased were confirmed, Iranian journalist Maryam Violette, an eyewitness to the carnage, had suspected that many among those killed in the attack were Arabs and Muslims.
8 of the 30 Muslims killed in the Nice Terror attack on July 14 the oldest is 70s years old the youngest 4.
“There were so many Muslim people who were victims because I could see they had scarves over their head and some were speaking Arabic, one family lost a mother and in Arabic, they were saying she’s a martyr,” said Violette.
60-year-old mother of seven, Fatima Charrihi, is believed to have been the first person to be killed. Hamza, 28, who tried in vain to resuscitate his mother, said he believes she was the “first victim” because “there were no other bodies in front of it”.
Charrihi was a member of Nice’s Muslim community who reside in a enclave in the centre of the French Riviera, a short distance from the promenade.
Hamza paid tribute to his “extraordinary mum”, a devout Muslim who he says “wore the hijab, practising real Islam. Not that of the terrorists.”
Her husband, Ahmed, had been some 50 metres in front of her, having gone ahead to unlock the car, when the truck began “smashing things to pieces”.
“She was with her nieces and nephews. My brother tried to revive her. But she died on the spot told us doctors,” said Hamza. L’Express published a photo of her residence permit.
Two Algerian children and a 70-year-old Algerian woman were also killed, the country’s foreign ministry’s spokesman said. The pensioner, Zahia Rahmouni was visiting her daughter and her grandson when she was killed.
Estonian national Tatiana Muhamedova, 61, also a grandmother lost her life, the country,s Prime Minster announced. Her family appealed for her whereabouts on twitter and facebook making it known she did not speak French. Five days later on July 19 officials confirmed of her death.
19-year-old Silan Aydin who had had travelled from Germany where she was studying to Nice on holiday was among the dead. Silan, who was of Kurdish Turkish descent, and another German student were reported missing and it was feared they may have lost their lives in the attack.
Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the death of two of its nationals including 29-year-old mechanic Bilal Labaoui, who was with his older brother Walid when he was struck. Walid cradled his brother’s body waiting for an ambulance. Walid described his brother as “a very nice and generous young man who loved his family, was a passionate football fan and partygoer.”
Fellow Tunisian Mohamed Ben Abdelkader Toukabri who was in his late 50s and had been living and working in France was also killed in the attack.
Also killed were French nationals of Tunisian decent including Olfa Bent Souayah Khalfallah, 31, and her four-year-old son Kylan Merji.
The harrowing photos of the child’s heartbroken father with his arms raised to the sky in disbelief after discovering he lost both his wife and child in the attack, quickly went viral.
Tahar Mejri, from Lyon, had desperately scoured the city for his son after the body of his wife was found in the wake of the massacre. All that was found near the scene of his son’s death was his scooter, Mejri’s family and friends took to facebook in the search for the infant.
Mejri wailed for “them both” outside the Pasteur Hospital in the north of the city as it emerged his son was among the dead.A close friend of Mejri said: “He doesn’t want to see anyone. He is destroyed. They had an inseparable bond.”
Grieving Tahar Mejri holds the photo of his 4 year old son Kylan Merji dur ing the infant’s fu neral in Enfidha, Tunisia on July 20, Tahar also buriedhis wife Olfa Bent Souayah on the same day (Photo: Yassine Gaidi/ AA)
At the local children’s hospital, 13-year-old Chérine Hachadi awoke from her coma two days after the attack.
For her mother, Bouchra Marzouk, an accountant who came from a close-knit family of Moroccan origin, it was the rare glimmer of hope having lost Chérine’s 13-year-old twin brother, Mehdi, whose body she found in the chaotic aftermath.
She also saw her 43-year-old sister, Fatima Marzouk, dead on the ground. Quickly realising neither of them had survived, she went to look for Chérine.
“She told me that in 30 seconds her whole life was annihilated,” said Yasmine Marzouk, her niece. “She said, ‘Now I’m going to focus on Chérine, for Mehdi it’s finished.’”
For two days after the attack, 42-year old Aldjia Bouzaouit’s family walked up and down the promenade holding her photo, asking passers-by if they had seen her. Bouzaouit, had taken two of her four children down to the promenade to attend the celebrations.
On Sunday July 17, the family received the news it never wanted to hear.
“My sister died. I got the confirmation today. She died right away during the attack… She was a very kind woman. She had four children, and worked at the clinic. She was a practicing Muslim,” said her distraught brother, Bilal Bouilfane.
The French Muslim Council has condemned the atrocity as a “barbarian attack”. In a statement the Council said: “France has been hit yet another time by a terrorist attack of the utmost severity.” It added the “odious terrorist act took aim at our country on the very day of its national holiday, a day which celebrates liberty, equality and fraternity.”
The Council called on the French Muslims to pray on Friday that week for “the memory of the victims”.
Its British counterpart the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) also expressed outrage. MCB, Secretary General, Dr Shuja Shafi, said, “Whatever twisted motives these people claim to be murdering for, it is quite clear these atrocities are designed to sow division, and create hatred and distance between communities. We cannot let them succeed. My thoughts and prayers are for the families of the victims and the wounded.”