Photos: Hundreds commemorate Shireen Abu Akleh in memorial mass

Occupied East Jerusalem – The sound of hymns and the smell of incense filled the chapel where hundreds of people gathered for a memorial mass to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The service, organised by her family and friends, was at the al-Liqaa Melkite Greek Catholic Church in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday.

“The bullet that killed her left us all in pain and changed our entire lives,” Linah Abu Akleh, Shireen’s niece, told Al Jazeera at the church.

“One year on, our family is still fighting for justice. One year on, we are still in pain over this insurmountable loss,” she said.

A large photo of Shireen sat on a table lined with white roses, candles and crosses at the head of the chapel as the congregants honoured her and prayed for her soul.

Priests and ministers offered communion to mourners and surrounded her photo with incense, to symbolise prayers for her rising to heaven.

Household name

Shireen was a 51-year-old Palestinian American TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic and a household name for more than 25 years.

On May 11, one year will have passed since she was shot dead by an Israeli soldier while doing her job covering the occupation.

She was killed while wearing a clearly marked press vest and helmet, reporting on an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank.

Her killing caused outrage across the world, and particularly among Arabs and Palestinians.

Although a year has passed, her death remains a deep source of shock and pain for many who were close to her or who followed her work.

“I’m always about to call her, or text her, or ask her how she is, how’s work and everything. And then it hits me again that this has happened,” Lareen Abu Akleh, another one of Shireen’s nieces, told Al Jazeera.

Dina Nasser, another friend of Shireen’s who attended the service, said: “Shireen was a symbol for Palestinian women and Palestinians.

“She was the voice for the vulnerable, the underprivileged, the voice for Palestinians and the Palestinian struggle”.

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