I pondered for a while how to begin this piece, and I honestly did not know how to as too many thoughts and emotions run through my head. Thoughts of anger, sadness, disbelief and a big question mark, why? What did a 17 year old girl do to deserve to die in such a brutal way? I am not going to sugarcoat anything nor am I in any mood to do so, Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year old girl from Virginia, died because she is Muslim. I decided to write this piece as raw as possible and with my own thoughts running through this piece, not from a usual third person point of view which at times makes the author seem detached from the story as it just presents the facts.
It was Sunday June 18th around 3 a.m. Nabra and her friends were returning to their local Mosque after having Suhoor for the morning prayers. Suhoor is the meal Muslims eat before sunrise during the month of Ramadan. While the group was walking back to the Mosque, 22 year old Darwin Martinez Torres drove by, stopped his car, took a metal baseball bat and started assaulting them. The frighten teens started running towards the Mosque, Nabra tripped and fell on the ground and she never got up again. Torres hit her in the head with the bat, took her in his car and threw her body in a nearby pond. Nabra’s lifeless body was found on Sunday afternoon, after Torres had been arrested by the Police for being suspicious, led them to the pond where Nabra’s body lied.
The police released the mugshot of Torres, with a tweet stating that this is not a hate crime investigation. If that is not a hate crime, then what is it? It is not every day that you see someone getting out of a car, pulling a baseball bat and start assaulting a bunch of teenagers. Would he have done that if the girls were not visibly Muslim? I highly doubt it, and that is the honest truth. In statement, Nabra’s father said that his daughter’s death was due to a hate crime, he went on to say that the moment he saw Torres, he would ask him why did he take his daughter away, and then forgive him. This is a true act of faith, How many of us can say, we would act this way? Of course we cannot answer this question unless we have been in this family’s situation.
Moments of awakening quite often come during turbulent times, and it is during these times we must come together as a community not only to mourn Nabra, but also to discuss ways in preventing another incident like this one from happening again. If we are to take any lessons from this tragic event, that is the fact that we cannot rely on the police or the government in general to protect us unless if we push for change. The authorities decided to call this an incident due to road rage, instead of what it is, a hate crime. Now more than ever, we need to become more politically engaged and reclaim our narrative. We need to put an end to the multimillion industry Islamophobia has become, and now more than ever in the words of social justice activist Linda Sarsour is imperative that we remain unapologetically Muslim.
We cannot allow this to happen again, we do not need another senseless tragedy, and a family should not have to bury their 17 year old daughter just for being Muslim. May you rest in peace Nabra.