#SayHerName: Twitter Reacts To News Police Are Calling A Muslim Girl's Murder 'Road Rage'
The murder of Nabra Hassanen comes in the wake of numerous acts of violence against Muslim Americans in recent months.
A 17-year-old Muslim girl, Nabra Hassanen, was killed in Sterling, Virginia, on Sunday in what the police are investigating a "road rage" incident. According to Washington Post, Hassanen was out to eat with a group of friends at IHOP in the early morning, after attending prayers for Ramadan.
The fact that the murder is not being labeled a "hate crime" by authorities has many online commentators questioning why.
The police report that Hassanen and her friends were walking back to the mosque after breakfast at 3:40 a.m. when a motorist, identified as 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, got into a confrontation with the teens and drove his car over the curb, scattering the group of as many as 15.
Martinez Torres tracked them down a short time later and chased them with a baseball bat. Hassan was struck with the bat and then abducted by Martinez Torres, who assaulted her a second time. After an hours-long search in Fairfax, remains thought to be Hassanen's were found at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The medical examiner has ruled that Hassanen died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.
Mohmoud Hassanen, Nabra's father, absolutely believes his daughter's killing was racially motivated: “He killed her because she’s a Muslim—this is what I tell the detective. Why was he running behind the kids wearing Islamic clothes with a baseball stick? Why, when my daughter fell down, why did he hit her? For what? We don’t know this guy. He doesn’t know us. We don’t hate anybody because of religion or color. I teach my kids to love everybody.”
For many, the attack feels especially pointed in the context of the upswing of hate crimes targeting Muslims, both within the US and abroad.
Just hours after her death, 47-year-old Darren Osborne drove a van through a crowd of pedestrians in front of a Mosque in North London, killing one and sending nine to the hospital. He reportedly yelled "I did my bit, you deserve it."
An opinion piece, also from the Washington Post, acknowledges that a hate crime fits a narrow legal definition: The crime must be motivated by prejudice, and the lack of racial slurs appears to be the defining factor for the police in their decision.
But Hassanen's murder, along with the fatal stabbing of two men in Portland, Oregon—who were trying to defend two Muslim women from a man accosting them last month—raises the question of whether the definition of "hate crime" under US legislation is far too narrow.
If 17 year old Nabra Hassanen were named "Natalee Hansen" and got snatched off the street & beaten to death you'd see Trump tweet so fast...— Plot Twist 😭 (@EmoNegro1) June 19, 2017
As Mona Eltahawy writes for The Cut, the regularity with which Muslim women have been the targets of violence (she details four incidents in as many weeks in the US,) calls for much closer examination.
Words: Deena Drewis