ISIL nightclub attack victims commemorated on first anniversary in Istanbul
Victims of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on a nightclub were commemorated on its first anniversary in Istanbul on Dec. 31, 2017.
A ceremony was held in front of the Reina nightclub in Ortaköy to commemorate the 39 people killed in the ISIL attack carried out by Uzbek-origin jihadist Abdulkadir Masharipov in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2017, with the participation of high-level officials, the relatives of those killed and citizens.
Consul generals of several countries also were among those who attended the ceremony as most of the victims of the attack were foreign revelers besides Turkish citizens.
A total of 39 people were killed and another 79 were wounded when Masharipov opened fire on the revelers last year.
He was captured on Jan. 16, 2017, 15 days after being on the run, in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district. At least 2,000 police officers took part in raids in 152 different addresses to capture the jihadist.
While the attack case includes 57 suspects, of whom 56 are under arrest, Masharipov faces 40 aggravated life sentences over “attempting to abolish the constitutional order,” “intentionally killing 39 people,” “intentionally attempting to kill 79 people,” “being a member of a terrorist organization,” and “buying and possessing arms,” in addition to up to 2,397 years in jail.
During the ceremony organized by the Beşiktaş Municipality, pictures of those killed covered in Turkish flags were placed in front of the door of the now-closed Reina nightclub.
Canada Consul General Ulric Shannon, Egypt Consul General Nermeen Afifi Metwally and Palestine Consul General Abdalkarim Al-khatib were among the high-level attendants of the ceremony, in addition to Austria Consulate Assistant Felix Bigl, Levon Zekiyan of the Apostolic Administrator of the Armenian Archeparchy of Istanbul, Ortaköy Synagogue Chief Rabbi Rav Naftali Haleva and Father Pasios, who attended the commemoration on behalf of the Greek Patriarchate.
After wreaths were laid in front of Reina’s entrance, Muslim, Christian and Jewish clerics made prayers of the three different religions.
Speaking during the ceremony, Tarık Arık, who lost his brother in the attack, said a Muslim can’t kill another Muslim, while adding that ISIL “doesn’t have anything to do with religion or Islam.”
“I want to shout, but I can’t do anything other than speak here. We’re very sad. It’s wrong for a human being to do this to another. People can drink alcohol and have fun. What’s that to you? How can you pay for this in the afterworld? No. A Muslim doesn’t even hurt an ant,” Arık said.
Among those who laid wreaths were one of Reina’s partners, Ali Ünal, and Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar.
“I once again condemn this terror attack. The 39 people killed in the attack are very dear to us no matter what their religions are or where they are from. Here, people who chose our country to celebrate the new year and who were guests of Beşiktaş, were killed,” Hazinedar said.
After the attack that shocked Turkey in the early hours of 2017, Reina was demolished on May 22, 2017.