'It's hard to say if I can forgive yet' - doctor who lost his family in fire
THE Irish-based doctor who lost his entire family in a suspected arson attack in Britain earlier this year says he might one day forgive the perpetrators of the crime.
However, he insisted the punishment for anybody found guilty needed to be "as serious as the crimes committed" to deter such violent actions in the future.
Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, a neurosurgeon working in a number of Dublin hospitals, lost his wife Shehnila (47), daughter Zainab (19) and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) following the horrific blaze at their Leicestershire home in September.
He told the Irish Independent that UK police had recently informed him that the trial of eight people, charged with his family's murder, will begin in April.
But Dr Al Sattar said he will not attend the trial. "I probably won't go over to it. It will probably be too painful," he said.
"It's hard to say what outcome I hope for but I have full trust in the British justice system and the important thing is that the same incident should not happen to anybody or any other family again.
"Everyone should be in agreement that the crime is so serious, the punishment should be serious too, so that nobody could think about doing the same crime ever again."
He added that he would first need to know why the acts were committed before offering anybody forgiveness.
"It's hard to say at this time (if I could forgive them). Eventually time will come to that situation, but it's too early to say.
"One needs to see the circumstances, one needs to see the people, to know exactly how this happened, why they did this thing," he said.
At the time of their tragic deaths, the children were receiving an Islamic education in Britain. But they were due to return to Ireland, where they had grown up, to lead a Muslim prayer centre at Warrestown House in Dublin 15 which their father had recently purchased.
Dr Al Sattar has promised to continue with the community work, and said he hoped the centre would be open by late January "with just some minor work like electrical wiring and central heating" to be completed.
He said he never gets angry, because he has God's love to help him with his anguish. "The passage of time helps but also a strong religious faith. God is helping me all the time. He's with me all the time and gives me strength all the time.
"I hope I never do get angry. We can't be angry at God because we all have to die one day, sooner or later. Some people die at a very young age, others die older. We have to accept everything," he said.
He returned to his native Pakistan for some time after the funerals, but resumed work about six weeks ago.
This week he thanked his colleagues and friends at Beaumont, Temple Street and Crumlin hospitals who he said had been "extremely helpful" in supporting him.
He also paid a special tribute to people in this country: "All the Irish people have been so helpful. I have found the Irish people are like a family."