Yesterday, thousands of people said goodbye to the Bronx fire victims. A procession of eight hearses carrying one woman and nine children was escorted by the police to the Islamic Cultural Centre, and many in the crowd, including police officers, were crying. People had waited all morning to pay their respects, and loudspeakers were set up so people outside could hear.
The city's diversity and compassion has also been on display. A Gambian neighbor, Neneh Nobe, told the NY Sun, "We are all mourning, together. All Muslims, all the black people are here. The Americans have been very nice, especially the Bronx. They have been there every day." Another neighbor of the Soumares and Magassas, Carmen Saez, told the Daily News, "We just wanted to let them know the community stands with them and we feel their pain." And a woman, Fatoumata Sylla, who is a Malian immigrant like the Magassas and Soumares told the WNBC, "They're all children. They didn't do anything in life. They didn't see anything. They didn't do anything to God. Everybody has to go, but it's too early for them."
The Magassa and Soumare families, who lived together in a four-story Highbridge house, each lost five people after last Wednesday's fire: Five Magassa children - 11-year-old Bandiougou, 8-year-old Maltamadou, 5-year-old Abubakary, 3 year-old Diaba, and 1-year-old Bilali - and all four Soumare children - 6-year-old Hassing, 3-year-old Djibril, 7-month-old twins Harouma and Sisi - and their mother, 42-year-old Fatoumata Soumare. Afterward, city buses transported mourners to Makbarat As-Salaam, a Muslim burial ground in NJ where the Magassa children were laid to rest. The Soumare family will be buried in Mali, and though Mamadou Soumare's immigration status is unclear, politicians are working to get him appropriate visas so he will be able to return.
Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner were in attendance. Afterwards, Mayor Bloomberg said, “To the Magassa and Soumare families: New York is your city. America is your country. And we all grieve together in this. With you, we all pray to be together again one day. As it says in the Koran, ‘We all came from God, and we will all return to God again.’ ”
Top photograph of mourners in the street by Jason DeCrow/AP; lower photograph of the Magassa burial by Mel Evans/AP