Seven – year – old Julnar is dead, shot by a government sniper as she called out messages of solidarity for civilians in Homs from her bedroom window, according to her mother.
As Syrian troops unleashed the first wave of the week – long barrage against Homs last week, mosques across restive districts of Damascus called citizens to prayers of protest. At 2.30 in the morning, calls of “God is Great” washed across the districts from the minarets and residents took to the streets in angry protest.
“Julnar heard the mosque’s call, so she started to wake me up. She wanted to join in,” said her mother. “I put a chair at her bedroom window for her to stand on and I started chanting ‘Allah Akhbar’ with my daughter.”
Suddenly the little girl fell to the ground. Blood was oozing from two bullet wounds in her stomach.
Panicked, her mother rushed her to a neighbour’s ground – floor apartment. Outside came the constant rattle of gunfire as government troops sought to silence the protest.
“I knelt quietly next to my dying daughter on the floor. I held her hand, I whispered with her verses that Muslims must say before they die,” said her mother. “Around me everyone was weeping and screaming. Somebody massaged her chest”.
They rushed the little girl to hospital where doctors tried to save her during three hours of surgery.
She died just before dawn prayers as she came out of the operating theatre. Frightened of the incendiary reaction that might come from the child’s death, the funeral was a rushed and controlled affair.
Security forces prevented the attendance of men. Only her father and two brothers were allowed to go.
At a court, Julnar’s father was made to sign a paper confirming that his daughter was killed by a stray bullet.
But her defiant mother is certain it was a targeted killing, but that the bullet was intended for her.
A prominent activist who organised demonstrations and shouted slogans in the face of regime officials, the mother is known for her hatred of the President Bashar al – Assad.
Living in a community that is a mixture of Sunni and the ruling minority Alawite sect, hers is a position that is much disliked by some. An Alawite next – door neighbour had twice threatened her at gunpoint to stop her activities, she said.
“I am not sure who shot my daughter, but I am sure it was an Alawite,” she spat, her sadness suddenly flaring into rage. “The Alawites in our neighbourhood are being armed. All my Alawite colleagues at work have been given guns,” she added. “I wish the Sunnis could arm themselves. I would be the first to go to the presidential palace to shoot him.
“Julnar was the happiness of my life. Now I am living only for taking revenge.”