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Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Thousands mourn family's eight dead
Memorial service
Mourners prepare for prayers in front of the coffins
Thousands of mourners have gathered at a multi-faith service in memory of eight members of one family who died after a fire at their home in Huddersfield.

Five young sisters, their mother, uncle and grandmother, died in the house in the Birkby area of the city on 12 May.

There were calls for racial and religious harmony as the mourners gathered for the service at Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium.

The bodies of the dead will be flown on Sunday to Pakistan for burial.


We come from different creeds, from different faiths, but we are united today in common grief

Bishop of Wakefield

Mohammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, his sister Nafeesa Aziz and her five daughters - Tayyaba Bootall, 13, Rabiah Bootall, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, six, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and six-month-old Najeeba Nawaz - all died in the blaze.

The girls' grandmother, Zaib-u-Nisi, 54, died a week later in hospital.

Their relative, Jalil Karim, choked back tears as he spoke of his grief in an opening address.

"The tragedy has destroyed our family and brought with it a legacy, which will no doubt stay with us for the rest of our lives," he said.

In a moving tribute, family friend Councillor Mehboob Khan, called on people to live in peace and harmony.


People should support one another despite their cultural differences and work together

Councillor Mehboob Khan

"In a single horrific event five sisters, their mother, uncle and grandmother were taken away forever."

"But their memories and goodness will be everlasting. We shall never forget them.

"The outpouring of grief and absolute support from all quarters has been very touching.

"People from many different backgrounds, varying beliefs and races have united together to support the Chishti family to help them through these troubled days."

He said the weeks since the tragedy had shown the community was able to unite in a very positive and supportive way.

"It is a shared responsibility to build upon this renewed feeling of solidarity.

"My personal message for us - and one that is supported by Mr Chishti and his family - is that we should be proud of this country and regardless of different backgrounds should, and can, learn to live here in peace and harmony.

Mourners flowers
A small bunch of flowers is carried to the waiting cars

"People in the UK should support one another despite their cultural differences and work together to make this nation a strong and safe place for every citizen."

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, told mourners: "We come from different creeds, from different faiths, but we are united today in common grief.

"If we are to live together in this world then love must triumph over hatred.

"The terrible tragedy which came upon one family, who we are here to support today, was a tragedy brought about by hatred.

"It is my hope that being here together today will bind each one of us in the common cause of peace and love and never violence and hatred."

During the hour-long service there was a recitation from the Koran and tributes from Muslim speakers.

Three men have been charged in relation to the fire - two with seven counts of murder and one with eight counts of murder.


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See also:

13 May 02 | England
12 May 02 | England
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