Thousands attend funeral of Israeli girl slain in Istanbul shooting
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Thousands attend funeral of Israeli girl slain in Istanbul shooting

Mourners, including Arab-Israeli MKs and PA representatives, remember Lian Nasser as someone who loved life; women show solidarity after victims criticized for being at nightclub

Thousands attend the funeral of 19-year old Lian Zaher Nasser in her hometown of Tira on January 3, 2016. Nasser was one of 39 people killed in a terror attack at an Istanbul nightclub shooting on New Years Eve. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Thousands attend the funeral of 19-year old Lian Zaher Nasser in her hometown of Tira on January 3, 2016. Nasser was one of 39 people killed in a terror attack at an Istanbul nightclub shooting on New Years Eve. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Thousands of people attended the funeral of an Israeli teenager Tuesday morning who was killed in a shooting attack at an Istanbul club during New Year’s festivities.

Lian Zaher Nasser, 19 was buried in her hometown of Tira in central Israel as mourners lamented the teen’s life having been cut short in the terror attack that claimed 39 people, most of them foreigners.

Among the mourners were MKs from a delegation of the Joint (Arab) List headed by Ayman Odeh and representatives of the Palestinian Authority sent by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Israel Radio.

The Islamic State terror group on Monday claimed the shooting rampage at the exclusive Reina nightclub in Istanbul, where Nasser was celebrating the New Year along with three friends from Tira, one of whom was injured in the attack.

On Monday, the Tira City Hall declared Tuesday a day of mourning and asked residents of the city to attend the funeral, while the Joint List party also called for as many people as possible to show up.

Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh (center) with fellow MKs from the Joint (Arab) List at the funeral of Lian Zaher Nasser on Tuesday, January 2, 2017. (Credit: Joint (Arab) List spokesperson)
Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh (center) with fellow MKs from the Joint (Arab) List at the funeral of Lian Zaher Nasser on Tuesday, January 2, 2017. (Credit: Joint (Arab) List spokesperson)

As mourners carried Nasser’s coffin from her home to Tira’s cemetery, her mother cried out, “Why did you take my daughter?” the Hebrew-language daily Haaretz reported.

Deputy Tira Mayor Wallid Nasser — who is a relative of the victim — delivered a eulogy for the murdered teenager, saying that “Lian loved life” and that “she had planned to study and advance in life, but her life was cut short in a tragic manner,” according to Hebrew-media reports.

MK Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List described the shooting as “an act of criminal terror,” labeling IS a “fascistic cancer.”

“IS is not Islam and the majority of victims of IS’s crimes are Muslims,” Tibi said.

“Lian was the daughter of all of us and I share the sorrow of the Turkish people and the sorrow of the families of all the victims that fell in this shocking slaughter,” Tibi added.

A large number of women and young girls came to the funeral to express their solidarity with Nasser after criticism was heard from religious circles that the victims, including Nasser and her friends, went against Muslim tradition by being in a nightclub and celebrating the secular New Year, according to Haaretz.

Tira resident Dr. Ala’a Abdulahi, who was also in the nightclub at the time of the shooting, told Haaretz that “this attempted slander is another murder of Lian,” while adding that “we arrived in Istanbul as independent young women and it is our right to celebrate the New Year’s in a well known and exclusive club, and whoever this does not fit can go and break their head.”

The Joint List also condemned the social media attacks, referring to them as “creeping IS-ism.” The party called on the public to dismiss such comments, “which endanger the entire Arab community, its identity, its existence and its fundamental struggles.”

Lian Zaher Nasser of Tira, killed in a shooting attack at an Istanbul nightclub on January 1, 2017 (Courtesy)
Lian Zaher Nasser of Tira, killed in a shooting attack at an Istanbul nightclub on January 1, 2017 (Courtesy)

The Islamic State (IS) terror group took responsibility for the New Year’s attack, claiming that Christian revelers were targeted in response to Turkish military operations against IS in northern Syria. However, the most of the dead were foreign tourists from Muslim countries.

IS’s claim of responsibility came after a recent IS propaganda video urged attacks on Turkey, which is home to an air base used in the US-led effort against the group in Syria and Iraq.

The nightclub assailant, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian early Sunday outside the club before entering and firing at some of the estimated 600 people inside. The establishment is frequented by famous locals, including singers, actors and athletes.

On Tuesday, the gunman was identified in Turkish media reports as Iakhe Mashrapov, a 28 year-old from Kyrgyzstan who entered Turkey in November. There was no confirmation from authorities in Turkey.

AP contributed to this report

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