Blaze father's 'heart is crying'
Published 10/10/2013 | 17:41
Thousands of mourners have attended a funeral prayer service for a mother and her three children who died in a suspected arson attack.
An estimated 7,000 people gathered in Leicester's Spinney Hill Park to pay their respects to the memory of 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 the half-hour service, thanking mourners and police for their support since the deaths of his wife and children.
Seven people have been charged with murdering the four family members, who died in the blaze at their home in Wood Hill, Leicester, on September 13.
Speaking during the service, Dr Sattar, who works in Dublin as a neurosurgeon, 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.
Dr Sattar also spoke to members of the media after private ambulances carrying the coffins of his loved ones had left the park following the service.
The surgeon, 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, Dr 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."