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Halifax Honours The Victims Of Baghdad's Karrada Bombing

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Candles were lit in downtown Halifax for the souls lost in Baghdad's Karrada bombing.

Around 100 people gathered in silence at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street to take a stand against violence and fear.

The Iraqi community organized the candlelight vigil on Tuesday with one of its organizers, Hamzeh Haddad, saying, "The least we can do, as Iraqis, is to raise awareness on what is happening."

The bombing, which took place a few days before Eid and in one of the most crowded areas in Baghdad, marked the end of the Islamic holy month with blood and anguish.

"We want to feel close to our family and friends in Iraq even if it is only on a spiritual level," says Enas Jawad, a local Iraqi artist who also appears in the video.

The vigil's opening speech by Hamzeh Haddad, an Iraqi political scientist:

Fellow Iraqis and Haligonians. On behalf of the Al-Batool Islamic society I thank you for attending tonight's vigil in remembrance of Iraq's victims. Unfortunately as you all may know, Iraq is no stranger to war and violence. However, the attack we remember today did not occur on the front lines of the war. It was far from it in the capital, Baghdad amongst civilians on a day like today.

On July 3 in Karrada, Baghdad, Iraq, hundreds of families and youth gathered at a popular mall to enjoy their weekend. Many had come out that night to buy new clothes for the upcoming Eid holiday, others came together to watch a soccer game, and dozens of teenagers to celebrate their graduation. The attack cowardly was timed late at night where people go out as they can eat, drink and enjoy themselves during Ramadan.

What was a festive night suddenly took a turn for the worst. An ISIS car bomb detonated in the middle of the crowded street, ripping through the adjacent mall and setting the building on fire. The fire soon engulfed the entire structure, trapping everyone inside. The flames raged through the night and were not put out until the morning.

The human toll has been devastating. As I speak to you today, over 300 people and counting have lost their lives. Entire families were literally wiped out; friends and relatives struggled to identify the charred bodies. The deadliest ISIS attack and the deadliest attack to hit the Iraqi capital in years.

As a local man said the next day, "People came to buy clothes to celebrate Eid. Now, they're buying coffins."

The international community's silence has been deafening. The death toll from this tragedy was more than Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels and Orlando combined, yet words of support were few and far between. Buildings did not light up to honor the perished, social media profiles ignored the event, and Iraqi blood was left cheap and neglected.

It is our duty tonight to remember the suffering of the Iraqi people who are at the forefront of the war against ISIS. The Iraqi armed forces are fighting ISIS on behalf of the entire world and their families bear the brunt of the deadliest terror attacks in the world.

Just as all Canadians honor their fallen servicemen and women, the brave Iraqis defying ISIS day in and day out deserve our utmost respect. Too often these men and women pay the ultimate sacrifice, laying down their lives in the pursuit of freedom and happiness.

ISIS is a threat to the entire world. Anyone one of us could lose a loved one in a terrorist attack. It is time we get behind the people of Iraq. We must all lend our voices to the courageous men, women, and children resisting ISIS everyday to prevent the spread of this evil. The beautiful, strong people of Iraq fight to keep everyone of us safer -- please never forget them, especially when they need us most.

Multiple suicide bombers also attacked a mosque in Balad a few days after the Karrada bombing. Over 50 Iraqis died that night at the mosque. Just today, a suicide bomber attacked a farmer market north of Baghdad in the Rashidiya district. Killing 12 Iraqi. These are cowardly acts that happen in Iraq and around the world and while it may occur more often in Iraq. That does not mean these lives are just numbers and to be forgotten while others aren't. They are no less human or any less victims than the victims of Paris and Brussels.

Please don't forget these beautiful lives lost in Baghdad and don't lose awareness of the ongoing Iraqi struggle for peace.

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