Exclusive: Aiia Masarwa's Father Hopes His Daughter Is 'In Paradise'
It was a trip no father should ever have to make.
As Saeed Masarwa prepared to leave Melbourne and bring his daughter home to Israel, he had one wish: for Aiia to be in paradise.
“We wish for her to be in the paradise, and everything to be good for her in another way … another place [where] she is now,” he told The Project, wiping away tears, in an exclusive interview to be aired on Tuesday night.
“This is just what we can do.”
It has almost been a week since 21-year-old Aiia Masarwa, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, was killed on her way home in Bundoora, in Melbourne's north-east.
She had been an international student at La Trobe University, and had chosen Melbourne as her second home.
Her sister Noor remembers her as a "little girl with BIG dreams".
"She was living a dream in Melbourne, a dream that ended up being worst [sic] than a nightmare," she wrote on Instagram on Monday night, paired with a photo Aiia painted in 2014.
Aiia was returning home from a comedy gig in the city when she was attacked last Tuesday night. Noor said she was on the phone to their other sister Ruba at the time.
"We tell women if they feel unsafe to make a call so that they can feel safe. But Aiia was on the phone with my sister Ruba when all that happen [sic]" she wrote.
But what to we tell men to do? Do we tell them how to behave? We tell them nothing ... but we need to tell them something from now on!
Aiia's body was found near a shopping centre in Bundoora on Wednesday morning, a short distance from where she got off the Route 86 tram.
A 20-year-old man, charged with her rape and murder, has been remanded in custody to reappear in court in June.
Meanwhile, a city has joined her family in mourning.
After the coroner released Aiia's body for repatriation to Baqa al-Gharbiyye on Monday, hundreds gathered at the Albanian Islamic Centre in Dandenong. Some carried out an Islamic cleansing ritual on her body; others gathered in prayer.
Her father Saeed helped to carry her coffin outside, making a heartfelt plea for "more peace".
"We want to make the world more peace and more safety and more beautiful, and more smile and more forgive each other," he said at the vigil.
"This I study from Aiia, it's not me, this is Aiia's word but this is my voice ... to see the light in the dark. I wish all the people to see the light and go to the light. Don't be in the dark."
Aiia's funeral will take place in Israel on Wednesday.
Mourners in Melbourne are invited to pay their respects at the corner of Plenty Road and Main Driver -- where her body was discovered -- on Tuesday night.
Watch the full interview with Saaed Masarwa tonight on The Project at 6.30pm on Network 10.