MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — 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.
“Just like anything that sparkles, how it brightens a room up and brings joy to everyone, that’s who Alaa was to us.”
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-Muhandis’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.
“It’s tragedy,” he said “We’re all affected since day one.”
Basim Yousif, who did landscaping at Al-Muhandis’s home and her family’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.
“She left them to play, to make noise, whatever,” he said.
He said the family’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.
“She was hyperactive,” he said. “She liked to talk. She was a sociable kind of person.”
“Innocent people keep getting killed,” he added. “I have no words to explain the situation.”
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version contained the incorrect spelling of Kemal Degistani