Grenfell fire: Call to let Syrian victim's parents come to UK for funeral


Mohammed Alhajali, 23, died trying to escape blaze in 24-storey tower block on Wednesday that killed dozens

Omar al-Haj Ali, who survived the Grenfell Tower (left) with Mohammed al-Haj Ali (centre) who died and their elder brother Hazem al-Haj Ali (right)
Areeb Ullah's picture
Last update: 
Monday 19 June 2017 9:27 UTC

Thousands have signed a petition urging the British government to give the parents of a Syrian refugee killed in the Grenfell Tower fire a visa to attend the funeral of their son.

Mohammed Alhajali, 23, died after being separated from his brother as they tried to escape the flames that engulfed the 24-storey tower block in London early on Wednesday. He was one of 30 people killed in the blaze, although police expect that death toll to rise.

Speaking to the BBC, Hazem Alhajali, the eldest brother of Mohammed, said that his mother was desperate to come to the UK to see her son before he is buried. 

'Least I could do is to see his body before they bury him, I want to kiss him and see everything that belongs to Mohammed'

- Mother of Mohammed al-Haj Ali 

"My mum has cried lots of tears when she heard it happen," Omar told the BBC. "She said that she's waited four years to see him but then he died and I couldn't see him.

"Least I could do is to see his body before they bury him. I want to kiss him and see everything that belongs to Mohammed," Mohammed's mother told Hazem. 

Mohammed's brother Omar Alhajali, who lived on the 14th floor of the Grenfell Tower, was taken to hospital after escaping the blaze.

Despite being hospitalised, Omar was in constant contact with Mohammed before he died.

"The smoke is getting in, the smoke is getting in, we are going to die, we are going to die," were Mohammed's last words to his brother. 

Before his death, Mohammed had asked his friends to tell his family in Damascus that he loved them. Friends who were close to the late refugee told Middle East Eye that he was in contact with them until 5am.

After leaving Syria, he had not seen his family for five years and was forced to limit communication to ensure their safety amid the crackdown against the opposition.

Mohammed, who was a civil engineering student at the University of West London, came to Britain in 2014.

Mirna Suleiman, who created the petition and had close ties with Mohammed, told Middle East Eye that she had tried to help his family locate him. 

"After finding out the news I was in hysterics because I knew how much he struggled to get to the UK," said Suleiman

Over 4,000 supporters from around the world have already signed to show their support. 

Zainab Shaher from Camden wrote on Facebook: "I'm signing this because his parents have the right to say goodbye for the last time because Mohammed did his best to start a new life here in the UK because enough is enough this would be heartless if not given the opportunity."

The Syrian community will remember Alhajali at a special iftar gathering on Saturday that was originally organised to commemorate Jo Cox, an MP who was killed in a far-right lone wolf attack last year.