Family of tragic Syrian cyclist thankful for support

Mahfouz Balid died on his way to work on Wednesday
Mahfouz Balid died on his way to work on Wednesday

An Islamic leader in Belfast has praised the Northern Ireland public for their support following the road collision death of a Syrian dentist in Lisburn.

Mr Raied Al-Wazzan of the Belfast Islamic Centre said the family of Mahfouz Balid had been heartened by the goodwill of the many people who have rallied around after the fatal crash on Wednesday – and at Friday’s funeral.

The 47-year-old was cycling to work at a blind manufacturing factory around 2.25pm when he was involved in a collision with a lorry.

Although a qualified dentist in his native Syria for 20 years, Mr Balid had been working at the factory while he saved to gain the qualifications needed to practise in the UK.

His Belfast-born wife Abir arrived in Northern Ireland with their four children in 2013 and Mr Balid subsequently secured a visa to join his family.

On Friday night Mr Al-Wazzan, a friend of the Balid family, said many non-Muslims attended the funeral.

“Lots of local community turned up – many more than we expected – and it was just a pity the Belfast Islamic Centre was too small to accommodate them all,” he said.