Community mourns loss of 3-year-old girl killed in mass stabbing

July 8, 2018
Ruya Kadir memorial service
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Floral arrangements and photos, honoring slain three-year-old Ruya Kadir, stand before the public during a memorial service at the Boise Center, Saturday, July 7, 2018. Kadir was among nine victims of a stabbing attack during her birthday party last weekend.

BOISE — As fellow refugees, first responders, public officials and other community members filed into the Boise Centre to celebrate the life of Ruya Kadir, 3, rows of chairs became a sea of purple and pink.

The front half of the building’s grand ballroom filled quickly, with hundreds in attendance, making the crowd almost blend with the similarly prismatic stage, fitted with a blown up picture of the birthday girl eyeing her cake with glee.

The picture — seen by many after a stabbing during her birthday party that left her dead and eight injured shook communities far and wide — sat at the center of the stage, to the right of bouquets of bright flowers and to the left of a bundle of pink princess balloons in honor of the deceased birthday girl, described as a child “who always sparkled when she walked into a room.”

It was a scene of sorrow. A family torn apart. A community mourning — trying earnestly to mend the emotional wounds left after the attack.

Each speaker spoke with a tone of respect and woe toward her family — explaining they could never understand their pain, yet offering assurance that Ruya is in a better place.

Opening the public service, which followed a private funeral recession and burial, was Dr. Ahmed Abdelnaby with the Islamic Center in Boise, an engineer at Micron. He spoke with a sense of surety that Ruya died only in the physical.

“We need to remember that life on earth, no matter how long it is — it will come to an end. And this life is the shortest journey in a human being’s life.” Abdelnaby said. “Whenever it ends, an eternal life starts. And this is where Ruya’s soul is now.”

The family of Ruya Kadir requested privacy, through the International Rescue Committee in Boise, ahead of the event in a Facebook post but spoke through a family friend.

Remarks from Ruya’s parents, through Megan Frances Schwab at the IRC, echoed that same sentiment. Ruya and her mother, Bifituu Kadir, came to Boise in December 2015 as refugees from Ethiopia. Ruya Kadir’s father has been living in Turkey, and arrived the night before the funeral.

Bifituu Kadir, through Scwab, said Ruya “was a gift from God that we were able to be with for three years, but God wanted Ruya next to him. She came to us on her birthday and she left on her birthday. Her name, in Turkish, means dream. And she came to us like a dream and she left like a dream.”

Scwab also read prepared statements from Ruya’s father, Recep Serar, who was recently granted a visa. He extended gratitude toward the community, which has responded with an outpour of support toward victims.

“When I was in Turkey, you, the community, embraced her. You, the IRC, the community, Boise, the American people — you honored me by embracing Bifituu,” Schwab said.

Julianne Donnelly Tzul, executive director of the IRC in Boise, said the family was able to prepare Kadir’s body before burial earlier today at the Islamic Center of Boise, which hosted Ruya’s public service.

Serar arrived in Boise Friday night ahead of the funeral proceedings Saturday and has a visa lasting several months, Donnelly Tzul said, adding, “we expect that we’ll be able to take the next steps necessary to stay with his wife.”

Donnelly Tzul credits efforts from several IRC offices and the Idaho Congressional delegation for help in expediting the visa process, thanking each congressperson by name except Rep. Raul Labrador; she replied “no comment” when asked why.

She added that several law enforcement and emergency personnel agencies involved in responding to the attack sent letters of support.

Two children of the six injured have since been released from the hospital. Tzul said the rest of the victims, including three adults, are improving in condition and “moving towards eventual discharge. So, good news.”

The public reception was the latest iteration of community support following a stabbing at the Wylie Street Station Apartments. Kadir died of injuries she sustained and, in total, six children were injured during the attack: Kadir, 3, two 4 olds, a 6 year old, an 8 year old and a 12 year old.

Sunday evening, nearly 200 people gathered outside the apartment complex where the attack took place in solidarity with the victims and refugees who live there. Monday, thousands filled a block in downtown Boise for a vigil. Tuesday, volunteers distributed white flowers symbolizing peace from the vigil throughout the apartment complex where the stabbing took place.

Thursday, the Boise Fire Department and local business helped plant a garden in honor of Kadir’s memory outside the apartment complex.

Boise Mayor David Bieter, in a column Thursday, called the community’s support following the attack “one of the proudest moments” as a Boise resident.

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