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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 27 February 2021

Fear haunts murdered Moosa's neighbourhood

Families living around the mosque worry for their children and are concerned there may be other sexual predators in their community.
The mosque in Al Shabiat, in Dubai's Al Qusais district, where four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed was raped and murdered.
The mosque in Al Shabiat, in Dubai's Al Qusais district, where four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed was raped and murdered.

DUBAI // The mosque bathroom where four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed was raped and murdered two months ago is now open only for brief periods shortly before prayers. It is a precaution only, but a reminder of the fear that continues to haunt the quiet neighbourhood in which the most brutal of crimes took place.

Since Moosa's murder on November 27, the first day of Eid al Adha, the voices of children at the mosque have been absent. Youngsters have stopped attending the mosque - a source of great sadness for ME Alavi, the mosque watchman who was away on a month's holiday at the time of the attack. "We get very few children now. They are scared. Their parents are scared," he said. As he stood in the entrance to the mosque, his eyes filled with tears as he recounted how Moosa and his two siblings would bring him food.

"They were small, cute angels who came here often. Moosa brought me parathas often and waited until I gave him rice and yogurt," he said. Mr Alavi, 41, from India, was pleased with the death sentence handed down by the court on Wednesday. "I feel relieved after reading about it today," he said. "This is a lesson for all others who have evil minds. I have seen a lot of things here. Some people think in a strange and different manner that affects the society."

Just as those attending prayers are struggling to adapt after Moosa's death, so too is the community as a whole. His death at the mosque in Al Shabiat, a quiet residential neighbourhood in Al Qusais, continues to cast a dark shadow over the community. Although the man responsible, Rashid al Rashidi, 30, was condemned to death by firing squad, residents are still affected by the murder so close to their homes.

The incident has also sparked fears among parents that other sexual predators could be living in their neighbourhood. Police said al Rashidi was one of a number of sex offenders living in the area who they arrested immediately after Moosa's body was discovered. "Of course we are still worried," said Razi Khan, a Pakistani father-of-two living a few streets away from the mosque. "This case has opened our eyes to the dangers our children face here. My children asked me about this case as everyone knows about it here. I did not know what to tell them," he said.

Abdulla Abed, an Iranian automobile trader, said: "We do not know what kind of people are out there. I read that this man had raped others before but was walking freely here. This is a problem." The poorly lit streets in Al Shabiat were a cause for concern, said Mr Abed, who has one young son. "After this incident we feel there needs to be more security here." Al Rashidi, a fishing boat captain, lived just a few blocks away from Moosa's family in Al Shabiat. He is now being held in Dubai Central Prison in Al Aweer, an official said yesterday.

Mr Alavi, who has looked after the mosque for 14 years, said many people were now wary of leaving their children alone, even in the holy sanctuary of the mosque. "The authorities and media are also warning parents to be more careful. This is necessary in such times," he said. He now discourages young boys from hanging around near the mosque. "I shout at them if they hang around outside too long after prayers. You have to be careful now."

Maj Gen Mohamed al Suwaidi, the director of the punitive establishment department at Dubai Police, said offenders were imprisoned based on their offences. "Inmates are divided in different sections at the prison according to their crimes," Maj Gen al Suwaidi said yesterday. "Al Rashidi is currently held in the detention section at the central jail and we are waiting for directives on how to deal with him."

A separate source inside the prison said al Rashidi was currently being kept in isolation. The case will now go to appeal and is expected to go before the Dubai Court of Appeals next week or the week after. If the verdict is upheld at the Court of Appeals it will then be referred to the Dubai Court of Cassation where all the legal procedures will be reviewed. The verdict and sentence have to be unanimously agreed upon by a total of 11 judges before being referred to the Ruler's Office for sanctioning.

pmenon@thenational.ae

Published: January 29, 2010 04:00 AM

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