In the early hours of June 18, 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was abducted, assaulted, and murdered in Virginia.
The heartbreaking incident has left her family and the local Muslim community in shock, searching for answers amid senseless tragedy.
My heart is BROKEN. Beautiful 17 year old Nabra beaten to death in Virginia and body found in a pond. I can't take… https://t.co/bGrK5wn1DI— Linda Sarsour (@Linda Sarsour) 1497825483
Nabra and a small group of friends had just left a local mosque, where the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) was holding late-night prayers in the final days of Ramadan, and they were headed to a nearby fast-food joint to eat before fasting began at sunrise, the Washington Post reported.
The suspect — later identified as 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres — reportedly confronted Nabra and her friends on their walk. In the chaos of the moment, the friends dispersed, running back to the safety of the mosque, and Nabra was left behind. Hours later, her body was found in a nearby pond.
Was Nabra targeted because of her Muslim faith?
Still reeling from the news of her daughter's death, her mother, Sawsan Gazzar, was left pondering, why Nabra?
But she thinks she knows the answer.
"I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she's Muslim," Gazzar said. "Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?"
"Nabra’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar, wept at her home on Sunday night. “I lost my daughter,” she told the Post, “my first reason for happiness.”— AnastaciaME (@AnastaciaME) 1497879600
During a news conference, the Fairfax County Police Department said it is not investigating the murder as a hate crime as there "doesn't seem to be any indication" it was.
Nabra's mother, of course, is not off base for thinking her daughter may have been murdered because of her Muslim faith though.
Anti-Islam attitudes and violence have been on the rise in America and Europe.
Just last month, a report by Muslim civil rights group CAIR found alarming spikes in U.S. hate crimes targeting the Islamic community. After a dramatic increase in incidents between 2014 and 2015, the number of cases rose yet again — another 44% last year.
Demonstrators march in the streets of Queens, New York, after a Muslim was murdered in 2016. Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.
This isn't just an American problem either.
The same day Nabra was murdered in Virginia, a van plowed through a crowd outside a north London mosque, killing at least one person and injuring several others. According to reports, bystanders heard the driver scream, "I want to kill all Muslims," as he drove.
The media is already being heavily criticized for humanizing the London suspect, who was taken into custody, by using terms like the "white van driver," and not "terrorist," while reporting on the situation.
Nothing can mend the broken hearts of Nabra's grieving loved ones. But the internet is doing everything it can to ease the burden of loss during their time of need.
In less than 24 hours, they've raised a staggering $180,000.