Family pays tribute to British doctor killed in Syria

December 27, 2013 - 9:10:13 am

Fatima Kahn, the mother of British doctor Abbas Kahn, reacts after his funeral service at the Regent's Park Mosque in central London yesterday.

London: The brother of a British doctor who died while being held in custody in Syria paid a moving tribute to him at a funeral prayer service yesterday, describing him as “our star”.

Dr Abbas Khan was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death. The Syrian regime claimed he took his own life, but his family claim he was murdered.

The 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November last year in Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. 

His death was announced on December 17.

At the packed service at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, his brother Shahnawaz Khan said: “Last night I sat down to undertake the morbid task of writing a eulogy for my brother … My brother, to us, was our star. His star shone on our family.”

Abbas Khan was described by his brother as the “kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met”. Shahnawaz spoke of “the evil that has taken him from us so cruelly” and said the family had been through “one of the most difficult times we have ever seen”.

The doctor’s mother, Fatima, has dismissed a claim by Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, that her son killed himself. 

Earlier this month, the family revealed a letter in which the doctor expressed his optimism at being released and his hopes of being home in time for Christmas.

Abbas leaves behind his wife, Hanna, 30, his son, Abdullah, six, and daughter, Rurayya, seven.

In a very distressed state outside the mosque, Khan’s mother wailed and as people tried to comfort her, she said: “Nobody help me, I love my son. I am the loser. I’m the failure.”

She added: “I beg everybody. I touch everyone’s feet. Please give me my son.” A man then wrapped his arm around her and brought her to a car and she was driven away. 

Speaking outside the mosque before the prayers, the family’s solicitor, Nabeel Sheikh, said: “The family would like to express their sincere gratitude at the level of support they’ve received this morning. There is a very, very large turnout and I think that is testament to the significance of this case and the emotions that are running high at the moment.

“It is a very tragic set of circumstances under which Dr Abbas Khan passed away. Obviously we know tomorrow the inquest will be formally opened and then the process will start of collating evidence for the coroner to finally reach a judgment when the inquest concludes.

He said the idea of suicide was “inconceivable”.

The Guardian

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