Hundreds attend apartment fire victims janazah at Bronx Masjid

1/21/2022 12:51 AM
 Caskets are brought into the Islamic Cultural Center for a mass funeral for 15 of victims of a fire in a Bronx apartment building

Hundreds of mourners turned out for the janazah of Muslims that died in the deadly apartment blaze in the Bronx, New York City.

At least 17 people, including eight children, died in the fire on January 9 with a further 63 poisoned by the smoke. The residents in the building were mostly immigrant Muslims from the Gambia.

The fire is believed to have been started by a space heater.

The janazah at the Islamic Cultural Center in Fordham Heights was for 15 of the 17 victims. Separate funerals were held in recent days for two of the victims at an Islamic center in Harlem.

The mosque reached capacity quickly and many mourners braved freezing temperatures outside to watch the service via livestream on jumbo screens.

The dead ranged in age from 2 to 50.

City officials named them as: Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, female; Foutmala Drammeh, 21, female; Muhammed Drammeh, 12, male; Nyumaaisha Drammeh, 19, female; Haji Dukary, 49, male; Fatoumata Dukureh, 5, female; Haja Dukureh, 37, female; Mariam Dukureh, 11, female; Mustapha Dukureh, 12, male; Omar Jambang, 6, male; Sera Janneh, 27, female; Haouwa Mahamadou, 5, female; Seydou Toure, 12, male; Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, female; Isatou Jabbie, 31, female; Hagi Jawara, 47, male; Ousmane Konteh, 2, male.

Demanding action

The Imam, Sheikh Musa Drammeh, said he opened the Janazah for the wider public as he wanted to draw attention to the difficult conditions many people in the Bronx live in.

"Let everybody see 15 caskets of their fellow Bronxites being buried because of the condition in which they lived,” he said.

“If these people lived in Midtown Manhattan, this wouldn’t have happened.

“They would not have needed space heaters. The conditions in which they lived in the Bronx caused their death.”

He added: “We are No. 1 for everything bad…They will never achieve the American dream because they lived in the Bronx. Their families will never see them again because they lived in the Bronx. We are having this funeral today because they lived in the Bronx.”

Residents of the building had complained about the substandard conditions in the apartments.  

Members of the Gambian community have called for more investment and safer conditions in the Bronx.

“What is happening here in the Bronx, it is what is happening across our city, where the communities with Black, brown and immigrant people are," Mayor Eric Adams said.

“It’s time to end those inequalities so we don’t have our babies and our families torn apart by tragedy. The American dream for too many burned in that fire.”