Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

Murdered Palestinian exchange student laid to rest in hometown

Aya Maasarwe was killed in Melbourne, Australia, while walking home last week

Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian student Aya Maasarwe who was killed in Melbourne at her hometown of Baqa AlGharbiya, Israel, 23 January 2019. EPA
Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian student Aya Maasarwe who was killed in Melbourne at her hometown of Baqa AlGharbiya, Israel, 23 January 2019. EPA

A Palestinian exchange student who was murdered in Australia last week has been buried in her hometown in Israel.

Thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral of Aya Maasarwe outside her family home in the predominantly Arab city of Baqa Al Gharbiyye, north of Tel Aviv, on Wednesday.

The killing of the exchange student, 21, in Melbourne sparked an outpouring of grief worldwide and mournful vigils in Australia, where protesters have demanded an end to violence against women.

"I appreciate the support of all these people, in the whole world and also in my town," said her father, Saeed Maasarwe, who spoke with Australia’s ambassador to Israel by his side.

His daughter had been studying English on exchange at La Trobe University. Maasarwe was walking home after attending a comedy show with friends when she was attacked after midnight on January 16. She was on the phone with her sister at the time, police said.

Her murder sparked a debate in Australia about how safe the country is for women. Maasarwe’s family have said they had believed the country to be a safe destination for their daughter.

Her father and other relatives travelled to Australia last week to retrieve her body. While there they attended vigils alongside thousands of mourners.

A man, 20, has been charged with Maasarwe’s rape and murder.

Her family asked the media to spell her name Aya, to reflect that she was a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, rather than the Aiia that appeared on her passport.

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Read more:

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As mourners carried Maasarwe’s coffin, prayers were broadcast from loudspeakers.

Others marched carrying black banners that read: “It’s time to say: Stop killing women” and “Women have the right to live in peace” in Arabic and English.

At the Al Sarat mosque and cemetery, Maasarwe's body was laid to rest.

Hours earlier, Ahmad Tibi, an Arab Israeli Knesset member, said that Maasarwe was now the daughter of all Arab Israelis.

Updated: January 23, 2019 04:32 PM

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