On May 18 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis allegedly used a shotgun and a revolver to kill 10 students and faculty at Santa Fe High School in Texas.
Of those 10 students was a girl named Sabika Sheikh. She was part of the United States State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study Program. The objective of the program was to help build ties between the United States and students in Pakistan. Sheikh’s dream was to “impact the world” as her host family stated.
The duration of the program was 10 months and Sheikh was meant to return home to Pakistan to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with her family.
Across the world, her family and her country mourn the loss of an innocent girl who came to the United States for an education, but instead faced the darkest reality of the country.
Sheikh’s father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, stated that his daughter was excited to attend a school in the United States and that she loved Texas. He said that he was aware of the mass school shootings in the United States, but never thought it would affect his daughter. Sheikh’s father told reporters that he first heard the news while watching TV. Upon trying to contact his daughter he did not receive any response. Abdul Aziz Sheikh never thought he would lose his daughter in the United States.
“Sabika’s case should become an example to change the gun laws,” he said.
On May 20, a funeral was held for Sheikh by the Islamic Society of Greater Houston in Stafford, Texas. The Consul General of Pakistan, Aisha Farooqui, and the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, were in attendance to share their condolences. Other elected officials and members of the Houston Muslim community were also in attendance.
“One should not lose his heart by such kind of incidents,” her father said.
“One should not stop going for education to the U.S. or U.K., or China, or anywhere. One must go for education undeterred. But controlling such incidents is the responsibility of the respective governments.”