Hundreds mourn 16-year-old Halifax homicide victim: ‘The youth are feeling it’

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Hundreds mourn 16-year-old Halifax homicide victim
Hundreds of people gathered at a Halifax-area mosque to mourn the death of a 16-year-old the police have identified as the victim of a homicide. Members of the Muslim community are grappling with grief and anger, as they push for answers. Amber Fryday reports – Apr 24, 2024

Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday at a Halifax-area mosque to mourn 16-year-old Ahmad Maher Al Marrach, who was killed outside the Halifax Shopping Centre earlier this week.

Members of the city’s Muslim community were united in grief, showing their support for Al Marrach’s family during the somber service at the Kearney Lake Mosque Wednesday afternoon.

“Obviously, it’s a tragic incident,” said imam Hamzah Mangera following the service. “The youth are feeling it, because many of the youth were friends of the deceased.”

Al Marrach and his family were Syrian refugees who were making a life for themselves in Canada. While the teen had struggled to settle in, he “was on a path of change” at the time of his death, Mangera said.

Hamzah Mangera, who led Wednesday’s service, said Al Marrach’s death hit youth in the community hard. Heidi Petracek/Global News

Suzie Assal, who attended the service, said she knew Al Marrach through her work at his former school, Joseph Howe Elementary.

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“In the morning, we teach them something, we laugh, we joke, we go outside for recess,” she said. “He was good, very good.”

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“It’s very sad,” she added. “Very sad for the family, for the community.”

Police were called to a parking lot at the Halifax Shopping Centre shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, where they found an injured male youth. The teenager was taken to hospital, where he later died.

Two youths were arrested in connection with the homicide investigation Monday evening, but were released without charges Tuesday. Halifax Regional Police provided no updates about the case Wednesday.

A GoFundMe set up for Al Marrach’s family had raised more than $35,000 as of Wednesday.

“Ahmad’s family came to us as Syrian newcomers fleeing the horrific war,” says a message on the GoFundMe site. “A family of seven children managed to come to Canada for a ‘better life.'”

‘Incomprehensible’ tragedy

The tragedy has shaken many people in the community, including Rana Zaman, a community advocate who got to know Al Marrach’s family in the days after his death.

“When a child passes away from natural causes, that’s difficult enough. But when a child passes away from brutal violence, that is incomprehensible,” she said.

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“How do you understand and justify and get over that, and then how do you feel secure from that?”

Ahmad was a student at Citadel High School in Halifax, where a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that school counsellors, psychologists and other staff members have been made available to his grieving classmates.

“When a young person passes away, it impacts our entire community,” communications officer Lindsey Bunin said. “We know it’s important to talk during times of grief and sadness. Staff is ready and available to support any student who needs to connect.”

— with files from The Canadian Press, Amber Fryday and Heidi Petracek

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