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Wife, daughter of restaurateur Sharif Rahman pray for justice as Owen Sound police investigate fatal beating

Shayela Nasrin says that days after Sharif Rahman’s death, she still sometimes feels as if she’s moments away from hearing the familiar sound of her husband opening the front door and coming home from work.

Before long, though, the reality that her and her daughter will have to navigate the rest of their lives without the Owen Sound, Ont., restaurant owner and community volunteer sets in.

“In every corner of the house, I can feel him,” said Nasrin.

Rahman, 44, died Thursday after spending time on life-support in a London, Ont., hospital. According to Owen Sound police, he was attacked Aug. 17 by three male patrons in a dispute over an unpaid dining bill. His funeral was held Sunday.

Rahman’s death is being investigated as a homicide� and police are still searching for the three male suspects.

“They just destroyed a beautiful family. We just started our beautiful family,” Nasrin said.

The family moved to Canada from Bangladesh roughly 10 years ago. A few years later, they settled in Owen Sound, where Rahman opened The Curry House and shared his passion for food with his new community.

“He tried to give his best at the restaurant — always. He cooked with love and passion, not only for me and my daughter,” said Nasrin.

Rahman was an incredibly hard worker who was heavily involved in the community, always lent a hand to those in need and loved to provide food to those without, Nasrin added.

Daughter left without father

As police investigate and the community rallies around her family, Nasrin now looks to her six-year-old daughter, Shaikha, to whom she has to explain why she’ll never again be able to eat her father’s food, hear his voice or see his smile.

“She’s not expressing that much, but she knows what happened to daddy,” said Nasrin.

Sharif Rahman and his six-year-old daughter Shaikha.
Rahman was the father of six-year-old Shaikha. (Submitted by Shayela Nasrin)

“When she was spending the last moment with daddy at the hospital before the life-support was taken off, she was telling me, ‘Why does it have to be my dada? Why did people do that do my dada? Why did dada go out instead of calling 911?'”

Shaikha has told her mother twice that no food she’s eaten has tasted good since her father died.

“How much pain is inside her?” Nasrin said.

Community support ‘amazing’

On Sunday, hundreds of people lined the streets of Owen Sound to pay respects during Rahman’s funeral 10 days after the fatal assault, displaying a level of solidarity Nasrin never expected to see.

“I’m getting support from the whole community, not just the Muslim community,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

People showed support for Rahman’s family in the days following his assault, and later his death, with flowers and messages on his storefront, as well as a silent vigil and drum circle. Messages of support and love have also flooded social media feeds since the attack.

Sharif Rahman, Shayela Nasrin, and their daughter Shaikha. According to her mother, Shaikha says no food she's tasted since her father, a restauranteur, died has tasted good.
Nasrin says Shaikha spent time with her dad in hospital while he was on life-support. (Submitted by Shayela Nasrin)

“You can imagine how dedicated he was to the community. That’s why he got all this love from people,” said Nasrin.

Sikander Uman knew Rahman’s propensity for giving back to the community well, and also knew Rahman personally.

Uman, a leader with the Owen Sound Muslim Association, said the level of support he’s seen is unprecedented.

“I have personally been here now over 35 years, and I feel that at least now I can say, hey, there are people supporting me just as much as anybody else,” Uman said of the community’s backing following the attack on Rahman.

“We saw them lining up the streets, coming out for the vigil. It gives a sense of relief. Muslims in most communities are looked at as the others, especially in a smaller place.”

Suspects at large, but hope remains

Police have been unable to provide updates on their investigation into Rahman’s death, but have said they are still looking for the three suspects — two of them described as being in their mid-20s to mid-30s, and the other believed to be in his late 40s to mid-50s..

“I have correspondence that I think [police] probably have more information than we are told,” said Uman. “I think it’s a matter of time.”

People in Owen Sound pass in front of Sharif Rahman's restaurant Sunday Aug. 28, 2023 following his funeral. Rahman was beaten and later died inside the Curry House.
People in Owen Sound pass in front of Rahman’s restaurant Sunday following his funeral. (Michelle Both / CBC News)

Arrests won’t fill the void left behind in the lives of Nasrin and her daughter, but may provide a sense of closure.

“Deep in my heart, I believe they will get caught. Sharif will get justice,” Nasrin said. “I want justice for my husband, so my daughter can feel that, yes, justice is there for her daddy.”

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