Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 13 July 2020

Lebanese exile parents speak of grief for ‘inspiring’ law student who was shot dead

Police in England search for killer of Aya Hachem, 19, whose parents fled Lebanon as refugees

Aya Hachem was shot dead as she walked to a shop in Blackburn, north-west England.
Aya Hachem was shot dead as she walked to a shop in Blackburn, north-west England.

Police in Britain are hunting for the drive-by shooter who killed Aya Hachem, 19, a law student and charity worker whose parents fled Lebanon as refugees.

Hachem, who was in her second year of studying law at Salford University in Greater Manchester, was shot in broad daylight by someone in a car on Sunday afternoon near a supermarket in Blackburn, also in north-west England.

She arrived in Britain as a child, the oldest daughter of refugees who fled war-torn Lebanon.

The teenager was also a trustee at The Children’s Society, a charity working with vulnerable youngsters.

Hachem was returning home from the supermarket on Sunday when a pale-green Toyota Avensis, which was carrying several people, drove past and someone shot at her through the window. She died in hospital.

The car was later found in nearby Wellington Road but its occupants were still at large.

Her parents, Samar and Ismail, spoke of their devastation and said they hoped the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

“Our beautiful 19-year-old daughter Aya has been taken from us in the most horrific circumstances,” they said.

“She was the most loyal, devoted daughter who enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her brothers and sister Ibraham, Assil and Amir.

“She excelled in her studies both at Blackburn Central High School and at Salford University, where she was in her second year and dreamed of becoming a solicitor.

“She had just completed her exams and was learning to drive.

"We, her parents, are absolutely devastated by her death and would like to take this opportunity to plead with any members of the public who may have any information, however small, that may bring those responsible to justice.”

Aya and her family are much loved in our ARC community

Lancashire Police said although the motive behind the attack was unclear, they did not believe it was racially motivated.

“There is no evidence to suggest Aya was the intended target of this attack and every indication is that she was an innocent passer-by,” a police spokesman said.

“We are aware of rumours circulating on social media and we would stress that we are not treating the incident as terrorism-related and do not believe it was a racially motivated attack.”

The deputy leader of the opposition Labour party, Angela Rayner, shared her condolences with Aya’s family on Twitter.

Ms Rayner urged anyone who knew anything about the incident to contact the independent British organisation Crimestoppers.

Hachem had an ambition to practise international law and was the vice chairwoman of the university’s law society.

She was the most loyal devoted daughter

On Facebook, the Asylum and Refugee Community in Blackburn said: “Aya and her family are much loved in our ARC community.

“Our hearts and prayers are with them at this painful time, especially during this holy month of Ramadan when Aya and her family were fasting.”

Updated: May 19, 2020 02:15 AM

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