Calls for tolerance at vigil for Montreal metro escalator death victim

MONTREAL – The Fabre metro station became the scene of an impromptu wake as hundreds of people came out to mourn the passing of Naima Rharouity, who was killed Thursday in a tragic incident while riding the station escalator.

People responding to the invitation for the event, organized on Facebook, lit candles and laid flowers in the snow in front of the station where she died.

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“She’s a woman, she’s a mother of two kids, what happened to her can happen to anybody,” said her niece, Soukaina Rharouity.

People lit candles and put flowers in front of the Fabre metro station to commemorate the life of Naima Rharouity on Sunday, February 2, 2014. Global News

Police have only said that an article of clothing, likely a scarf of some kind, was caught in a gap in the escalator and choked her.

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The seemingly freak accident immediately became the subject of controversy, as some media outlets reported that she was strangled by the hijab she wore.

“Some people can be so awful, you know?” Rharouity’s niece said.

“A woman was dead. A human being, it could happen to anybody. Why all these hateful comments?”

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The organizer of the memorial said that he didn’t know Naima Rharouity but he was inspired to hold the event in part to encourage tolerance.

The coroner is still investigating the fatality.

People who use the metro are already wondering whether increased safety measures are necessary for the rows of rolling stairs found in stations all over the city.

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“The emergency button is at the bottom,” said Linda Gosselin, a commuter who uses the metro at Fabre.

“You don’t know it’s there, because you can’t see it.”

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