Road Rage Led to Muslim Girl’s Beating Death, Police Say

Nabra Hassanen

Virginia: A 17-year-old Muslim girl from Virginia, Nabra Hassanen, was attacked and beaten to death with a baseball bat en route to the local mosque with friends. She was coming back from eating at an IHOP for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal during the holy month of Ramadan. According to police, the assailant struck her with a bat and took her away in his car. Hours later, her body was found in a nearby pond. Medical examiners said the teen died of blunt force trauma to her head and neck.

In this case, Fairfax County Police spokeswoman Julie Parker said during a news conference Monday evening that no evidence has been recovered that shows this was a hate crime. Under Virginia law, a hate crime is defined as a criminal act intended to intimidate, harass or instill fear in an individual due to their religion, race or ethnic origin.

Martinez Torres who was charged with assaulting and ultimately killing Nabra Hassanen with a baseball bat is a citizen and national of El Salvador, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson. Martinez Torres drove past the group of as many as 15 teenagers ― some were walking, some were riding bicycles ― and got into an argument with a boy riding a bike in the roadway.  As the altercation intensified, he drove onto the curb causing the teenagers to scatter.  He followed them to a nearby parking lot. Torres chased Hassanen on foot and hit her with the bat. He took her in his car “to a second location” in nearby Loudon County, police said.

For Hassanen’s family the attack is another in a string of horrors that have affected Muslims in the United States in recent years. “I’m sure the guy hit my daughter because she’s Muslim and she was wearing the hijab,” Sawsan Gazzar, Hassanen’s mother, told The Washington Post. In an interview with The Guardian on Monday, the Virginia teen’s father, Mohmoud Hassanen, said he didn’t believe the police version. Torres “killed my daughter because she is Muslim,” he said. “That’s what I believe. That’s what I told the lieutenant.”

Many Muslim Americans find it hard to accept that Hassanen’s religion didn’t play a role in her killing, especially because a lot of hate crimes have already happened. Just weeks ago, a man harassed two young women, one of them was Muslim and wearing a head covering, on a train in Portland, Oregon, and allegedly killed two men who intervened. There is also the online petition urging that the murder be investigated as a hate crime which garnered more than 14,000 signatures on Tuesday. The investigation is ongoing, and police would not rule out that the crime was racially or religiously motivated.

Photo Credits: Buzzfeed News

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