Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting victim Sabika Sheikh laid to rest in Pakistan
The body of the 17-year-old exchange student was given a guard of honour at the Karachi international airport before a funeral attended by hundreds
Hundreds of people attended the funeral Wednesday of a Pakistani exchange student who was killed in the shooting at a Texas high school last week.
Sabika Sheikh, 17, died with seven other students and two teachers when a 17-year-old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School on Friday.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis was arrested and charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer. He admitted to the shootings and told officers he targeted students he didn’t like, according to a court filing.
Sabika’s body was flown to her hometown, the southern city of Karachi, early Wednesday. Under Islamic rules, the dead should be buried as soon as possible after their death – usually within 24 hours.
Her funeral was attended by hundreds of people including government officials and leaders of Sindh province, where Karachi – Pakistan’s most populous city – is located. Security was tight as about 100 police officers were deployed, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.
Sabika was studying in Santa Fe under the US State Department-funded Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study one-year scholarship programme. The programme, set up by Congress after the September 11 attacks, enables high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study in the US in an effort to improve ties.
Sabika’s family told the BBC that she wanted to become a diplomat.
Sabika’s father, Aziz Sheikh, who received her body at the Karachi international airport, said Sabika, who has three younger sisters and an older brother – was due to return home on June 9, Dawn reported, and referred to the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
“We were looking forward to seeing her back with us this Eid after she spent almost a year in the US,” her uncle said, according to Dawn.
US Consul General John Warner joined Sheikh, other family members and local officials at the airport, and an airport security team gave Sabika a guard of honour, Dawn reported.
“The entire nation is saddened by her death,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who visited the Sheikh’s home on Sunday, according to Dawn.
“Extremism is not the problem of any single country or region, but the whole world is affected by it,” he added.