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5-06-2012 - Gulfnews

Popular religious scholar Al Qaradawi calls for thorough probe into Doha mall fire

In his Friday sermon, Yousuf Al Qaradawi, one of the most popular religious scholars in Qatar, called for a thorough investigation to determine whether the mall blaze had been premeditated and would identify those who failed, by inadvertence or by incompetence to assume their responsibilities.

While the investigators continue the formidable task of sorting out what happened and how and why it happened, the popular spotlight is now on the performance of the traditional and official media compared with the emerging forces of online media.

Qatar's official television has come under fire for not suspending its programme and broadcasting live and quick information, prompting officials to explain their attitudes.

"The focus on Friday is also on the performance of the firefighters," Khalid said. "For most Qataris, they are real heroes who risked their lives to rescue the children and staff trapped inside the daycare centre. They deserved the best regards and we are happy that Crown Prince Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani personally offered the nation's condolences to their families," he said.

A local commentator posted that he had information that at least one of the firefighters refused to obey the orders and did not want to go from the roof into the daycare centre.

In an interview with a US daily, Grace O, the mother of Tunisian-American Zeinah Aouani, 2, was highly critical of some of the firefighters' rescue efforts.

"Rescue crews arrived, but demonstrated little urgency," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Desperate, she said she offered one firefighter a bribe, the daily reported.

"I even told one firefighter, ‘I can give you money. Please go check the nursery.' They just looked at me like a crazy person who doesn't know what's going on. Some firefighters, they worked hard, but there were so many other firefighters doing nothing," she said via Skype from Tunisia where she and her Tunisia-born husband buried Zeinah, a student at Primrose School in Midtown, Atlanta, on Wednesday.

However, rich tribute has been paid to the two fallen firefighters.

Houssam Shahboon, 23, was hailed as a brave hero who sacrificed his life to save others.

Abdul Khaleq Al Huwari, one of dozens of firemen who responded to the blaze and one of the first in the daycare centre after the fire died down, told AFP that he found Houssam, lying dead on the floor holding two children in his arms. Houssam was buried in Ibn Jarir, his hometown located 70 kilometres south of the tourist city of Marrakesh.

Mahmoud Haidar, the Iranian, was buried at the Abu Hamour cemetery in Doha. He "was barely alive when we found him. We tried to save him, but he died," Al Huwari said.


Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights