‘We mourn alongside her family and friends’

A piece of art taken from the vigil site where the body of Aiia Maasarwe was found. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

AIIA Maasarwe came to Melbourne to study as an exchange student at La Trobe University. But on Monday evening, her father Saeed helped to carry her coffin at the Albanian Islamic centre and mosque in Dandenong.

Just hours after Aiia’s body was washed and enshrouded in cotton in accordance with Islamic ritual, she made her final journey home for burial in her hometown Baqa ­al-Gharbiyye, near Haifa in Israel.

The 21-year-old was tragically murdered last week as she walked from the tram stop to her student accommodation in Bundoora after a night out at a North Melbourne comedy club. Her body was found in the early hours of last Wednesday morning. Twenty-year-old Codey Herrmann from Greensborough appeared in court earlier this week charged with her rape and murder.

The Israeli diplomatic mission in Canberra, which was praised by the family for the support it had given them throughout this harrowing ordeal, expressed its “heartfelt condolences”, a sentiment echoed by the wider Jewish community.

President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Anton Block commented that “like all Australians, we are appalled and outraged that such a violent and senseless crime could take place on our streets … We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Aiia.”

Meanwhile, the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) has written to Saeed to express its sincere condolences and offer any assistance to the family.

“Aiia Maasarwe’s young life ended far too soon. Aiia should have been safe to attend a comedy show and walk home on the streets of Melbourne. No parent should have to endure the death of a child. Aiia’s death was a complete injustice and we mourn alongside her friends and family,” ZFA president Jeremy Leibler told The AJN.

Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said the Maasarwe family will hopefully find some measure of comfort, strength and support from the countless people who have expressed their sympathies.

“With broken hearts and through tears, the ADC mourns and grieves for this young woman,” he said.

“This act of brutal and senseless violence has shaken the entire community, and will be a collective trauma that will stay in the hearts and minds of the people of Israel and Melbourne for a long time.”

The Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said, “AIJAC expresses our sincere condolences to the family of Aiia Maasarwe, an Israeli citizen and a student in Melbourne.

“All women – all people – should be safe on our streets. AIJAC welcomes the news that Victoria Police has arrested a man in relation to this shocking crime.”

A campaign has been launched to raise funds to assist Aiia’s family. For more information, click here