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Muslim-American family mourns loss of loved one

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Touri Bolourchi and her husband, Akbar, immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1979. The couple raised their two daughters, Neda and Roya, in Los Angeles, creating a family proud of both its U.S. citizenship and Muslim faith.

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Touri had lost two relatives in plane crashes, and she was afraid of flying. But Roya had relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, so Touri flew from Los Angeles to visit her daughter and her grandsons a few weeks ago.

She changed her reservation back to Los Angeles several times before finally settling on United Airlines Flight 175 on September 11.

Akbar Bolourchi watched the horrifying television image of Flight 175 crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center. He would later learn that his wife was on board.

"I saw the horrible thing. I couldn't believe it," he said.

Touri had just turned 69. She and Akbar recently had celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary.

"In one moment, the end of it all," Akbar said.

"That's the most horrific thing about it, that she was so scared of airplanes and we weren't with her," Neda said. "The only thing I wish is that she died before hitting the tower because I didn't want her to suffer. So I really hope she died before hitting the tower."

Grief echoed through the Los Angeles Islamic center where services were held for Touri Bolourchi, one of many Muslims who died in the September 11 attacks. The services urged calm at a time when so many are feeling persecuted.

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CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has more on one family's loss in the World Trade Center tragedy (September 18)

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United Airlines flew Touri's daughter Roya and her grandsons from Boston to Los Angeles so that they could attend the services.

"True Muslims don't believe in killing to prove what they believe in," said Bobby Turan, Touri Bolourchi's grandson. "I'm proud of being Iranian, and I'm proud of being a Muslim. If that's going to put me in any sort of danger, then I have to accept it because I'm not going to deny who I am."

The Bolourchis said they are focusing on feelings of love for Touri instead of hatred of the hijackers.

"I want to spend my time remembering the good things; I want to honor her spirit," Neda said.

Among the memories of his wife that Akbar said he will cherish: "The last time she hugged me and the last goodbye."

-- CNN's Thelma Gutierrez contributed to this report.






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