It Is an Insult to Nabra Hassanen's Memory to Call Her Killing a 'Road Rage Incident'
By Rawan Eewshahrawan
This past weekend, 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was walking home from a Sterling, Virginia IHOP with a group of friends when, according to reports, Darwin Martinez Torres started throwing beer bottles at the group.
Scared, the group ran back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) where they had been praying that same night. According to Nabra's mom, Sawsan Gazzar, detectives told her that Nabra tripped on her abaya (a traditional full-length dress) and fell behind the group. She was then allegedly abducted by Torres, beaten to death with a metal baseball bat, and left in a pond.
On Monday, Fairfax County Police tweeted that this murder would NOT be investigated as a hate crime, but rather a “road rage incident.”
It didn’t matter than Hassanen and her friends weren’t in a car or driving, thereby making it highly unlikely that they could be the targets of “road rage.” It didn’t matter that Torres seemingly appeared to stalk the group of Muslim teenagers, harassed them, and then reportedly tried to attack them. It didn’t matter that her dad, Mohmoud Hassanen, told The Washington Post that he’s “sure” Torres hit his daughter because “she’s a Muslim" and "wearing Islamic clothes."
Hours after Nabra’s killing, Darren Osborne plowed his van into a group of Muslims leaving a Mosque in London. After killing one and injuring 10, witnesses heard Osborne scream, “I want to kill all Muslims.” A few weeks ago, white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian, hurled anti-Islam slurs against two teenage girls on a train in Portland before three strangers intervened — and two of them were subsequently killed by Christian, and one injured.
In 2015, three Muslim-American students were each shot in the head — in their home — by their neighbor. Their names are far more important than his, so read them first: Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and Razan Abu-Salha, 19. Like Torres, their killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, was not charged with a hate crime. Instead, at the time, the police chalked up the whole ordeal to a “parking dispute.” A parking dispute. According to The News & Observer, "Federal investigators opened an inquiry shortly after to determine whether to pursue a deeper investigation into the allegation of religious bias and the possibility of federal hate crimes. The results of that investigation have not been publicly released." This is two years later.
It didn’t matter that Yusor’s close friend, Amira Ata, told The Daily Beast that as soon she heard her friends were killed, she immediately knew it was Hicks. It didn’t matter that Hicks, according to Amira, had shown up to Yusor’s apartment two months prior with a gun in his hand, screaming at the young couple for “waking him up.” It didn’t matter that Yusor’s father, Dr Mohammad Abu-Salha, told The Charlotte Observer that Hicks “had picked on (his) daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt.”
None of these points apparently matter — people are still choosing to call these crimes “parking disputes” and “road rage incidents.” Not only are these labels insulting to the victims and their families, they are a form of erasure. So, let me state my beliefs, my labels, my assessment as a Muslim American woman who is so tired of revisionist history: they were targeted because they were Muslim. They were killed because they were Muslim. What happened to each and every one of them was a hate crime. And until you call them what they are, these acts will keep on happening. Allure