Message for the 'men who hide in shadows'
The Canadian PressThursday, March 27, 2014
CALGARY - The brother of a Canadian woman who was killed in a hotel attack in Afghanistan has a message for the men he says "hide in shadows."
Karim-Aly Kassam told a news conference he is angry that his sister, Zeenab Kassam, was killed, but he intends to dwell on the positive to honour her.
"You may kill one of us, but our commitment to peace through ... the education of both women and men ... will not be compromised. Our efforts will be redoubled with greater vigour," Kassam said Thursday.
"Zeenab's death was not in vain. She has galvanized young Canadians to emulate her."
Kassam said he feels sympathy for the four men who were gunned down after the attack in Kabul, which left nine people, including two Canadians, dead.
"We even grieve with the families of the boys who brutally murdered nine innocent unarmed people, which included children, as well as my sister," Kassam said. "We grieve with the families of these boys who savagely killed because we know what it is like to lose a family member.
"We have a message for the men who hide in shadows, who connived to compel these young men to choose violence. You have wounded us, but you have not intimidated us.
"You will never intimidate us."
Zeenab Kassam, a 37-year-old nurse from Calgary, had spent the last year and a half volunteering as an English teacher at a school funded by the Aga Khan Foundation. She died alongside Roshan Thomas, an aid worker from Vancouver.
The Serena Hotel in Kabul has long been considered one of the safest accommodations in the country, yet four teenage gunmen worked their way past security, entered the hotel restaurant and opened fire on diners. Police killed all four attackers after a three-hour standoff.
Kassam said he expected his sister's body to be returned to Calgary late Friday.
The family moved to the city from Zanzibar in the 1970s because of "growing intolerance" in the region.
Zeenab spoke several languages, excelled in ballroom dancing and was an accomplished track and field athlete in high school, her brother said. Her real passion was nursing because she "wanted to provide relief to the sick."
Kassam shied away from discussing the attack itself, but said he was assured that his sister's wounds were "so great and so grave" that she wouldn't have suffered.
The family is proud that she had decided to pursue public service and that his sister was aware of the risks, he added.
"I remember my sister relating to me when a young man she was teaching said to her in English, 'How do you know we will not kidnap you or kill you?' She answered, 'I do not know,'" Kassam said.
"Instead of shying away and choosing a path of fear, my sister continued to work in Afghanistan."
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