Thousands turn out for funeral of migrant girl shot by Belgian police

Thousands turn out for funeral of migrant girl shot by Belgian police
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Two-year-old Mawda Shawri was reportedly shot in a van carrying illegal immigrants, as it was chased by police


Thousands of mourners have come together in Brussels for the funeral of toddler Mawda Shawri, a German-born, Iraqi-Kurdish toddler fatally shot earlier this month by Belgian police.

Those from the Kurdish community and beyond turned out for the burial of a young girl who's touched the hearts of so many.

"Usually it's the family, it's the friends, the people who accompany the parents who lose a child, but we have a family of migrants, so they are alone here," said Selma Benkhelifa, the family's lawyer.

"So the Kurdish community of Belgium and the Belgian citizens wanted to show them that they are not alone in their pain and that we could accompany them at the funeral of their little girl."

Mawda is said to have been shot in the face while on her mother's lap in the front of a van, carrying 30 illegal immigrants, as it was chased by police. She later died in an ambulance.

"These people have fled the war, well they lost their lives here in Europe and yet Europe means security in principle," commented Eren Koc, a member of the Kurdish Association of Brussels.

Demonstrators have lashed out at Belgium's migrant policy. It's not clear how long Mawda's parents will be allowed to stay in the country.

"I speak directly to the Prime Minister, I do not understand how he could meet the family and not decide to regularise them immediately, knowing that the girl was going to be buried here in Belgium," said Mehdi Kassou, from the Citizens Platform for Refugee Support.

Belgium's interior minister has described Mawda's death as "tragic." An inquiry continues.

Journalist • Damon Embling

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