Hundreds attend funeral of elderly American woman who died in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed said the gesture showed great Emirati community spirit

Hundreds attend the burial of Louise Jane Mitchell who died at the age of 93 in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Janaza UAE
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Hundreds of Emiratis attended the funeral of an American expat who had just one surviving relative, in a show of community spirit.

Large numbers of UAE citizens who did not know Lois J Mitchell, 95, prayed as she was laid to rest outside Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Ms Mitchell was survived by one son, John, and a daughter-in-law, Asli.

She lived with the couple in Abu Dhabi since she moved to the capital in 2006, after a long career as a home economics teacher in Baltimore.

She embraced Islam and adopted the first name Latifa.

People came to hear of her death when a social media account that publicises local funerals, Janaza UAE, posted about Ms Mitchell.

Emirati video blogger Majed Alarmy shared the story of her burial on Twitter, saying that many of the mourners were complete strangers.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, shared Mr Alarmy's account of the funeral and said it was a display of Emirati community spirit.

Mr Alarmy said: “The woman had converted to Islam. Her funeral was in the same graveyard where my father and mother are buried, next to the mosque.

“The information about the burial was shared on WhatsApp groups. The mosque can accommodate 500 people. The number of men who attended the funeral filled up the mosque and there were people all the way to the car park, so there were nearly 1,000 men.

“Men who didn't even know her came for the funeral.

“In Islam, they say if 40 people attend a person's funeral and pray for that person it is sufficient to wipe away their sins.

“Only Allah knows what beautiful deeds did she do that so many people turned up. May Allah grant her paradise.

“And to those who speak about women’s rights in Islam, hundreds of men carried her body to the burial ground. This religion came to elevate women and I ask Allah to elevate her to paradise. This is Islam, this is reality.”

Updated: November 23, 2022, 5:24 AM