A mom's heartbreaking question less than 24 hours after her daughter was killed.

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.

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?"

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 the wake of the Nabra's death, multiple fundraising platforms — on sites like LaunchGood and GoFundMe — have rallied supporters to help her family pay for immediate expenses, like funeral costs.

In less than 24 hours, they've raised a staggering $180,000.

The financial support is certainly heartening. But the messages of love on the crowdfunding pages are maybe just as powerful: "May your beautiful soul rest in peace habiti."

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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