Hurt runs deep at vigil for victim in Montreal escalator death
Published Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:44PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 3, 2014 7:03PM EST
It wasn’t long before a single photo of Naima Rharouity, lodged in the snow outside the Fabre metro station in Villeray, was surrounded by friends, family and strangers wanting to bid her farewell.
The 47-year-old mother of two young sons died Thursday after an article of her clothing somehow got caught in an escalator
Mourners attended a vigil Sunday and came with flowers and candles to place around a photo of the smiling woman in tribute to a woman who lost her life doing something so seemingly mundane.
She moved to Quebec eight months ago from Morocco, and was very happy in this province, said her brother.
Those who gathered to remember Rharouity believe the disturbing way in which she died should have been the only story making headlines.
But instead, news that she was wearing a hijab when she died sparked hateful, racist comments on social media.
Abdou Zirat, who organized the vigil, said their aim is to honour Rharouity, but also send a message of peace.
The event took place outside the metro station, the scene decorated by, among other things, a green sheet with a fleur de lys inside a heart drawn on it.
But the hurt among those in the Muslim community who attended the event runs deep.
They say the current political climate in Quebec, fuelled by debates over the proposed Charter of Quebec Values, is to blame for the furor that arose over Rharouity’s headscarf.
One woman expressed her disgust to CTV’s Cindy Sherwin, saying that it’s “intolerable that people are rejoicing at a woman’s death.”
Soukaina Rharouity, Naima’s niece, said the family was surprised by the hateful comments that followed her aunt’s death.
“A person who is dead is a human being, whether Muslim or not, a human being. How can people say stuff like that?”
The 24 year old said she and others are sceptical about the scarf’s role in her aunt’s death.
She said her young cousins, Rharouity’s sons, are still in shock and all her family wants is answers.
“I can’t sleep at night. I keep thinking about how did she suffer before she (died),” she said.