Thousands of American Muslims have attended the funeral of Nabra Hassanen, who was murdered on Sunday morning in what her father calls a hate crime.
Hassanen, 17, was kidnapped from near a mosque in northern Virginia and was beaten to death by a man named Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, with a baseball bat.
Police said the killing was being investigated as a road rage incident. But Nabra’s father has rejected the police theory and said his daughter was attacked because she was Muslim. According to some reports, the teenager might have been raped before she was murdered.
More than 5,000 people participated in the funeral of Hassanen in Sterling, Virginia on Wednesday. The killing of the Muslim girl has sparked both sorrow and outrage, as most of the American Muslims view the incident as a hate crime that could have happened to other Muslim teenagers.
“There is nothing like losing a child, especially in the way that we lost Nabra,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, the religious leader of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.
“My daughter is 17 years old and she didn’t know Nabra, but another friend knew her. And I think my daughter is in the same situation. She is wearing hijab and goes to another mosque,” one Muslim resident told CNN.
According to reports, Hassanen was walking with other Muslim friends after Ramadan services when she was attacked and bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat. Her body was later found in Sterling area, outside Washington with signs of beating. Torres has been charged with the killing.
In a phone interview with The Guardian on Monday afternoon, Nabra’s father, Mohmoud Hassanen, said,“He killed my daughter because she is Muslim. That’s what I believe. That’s what I told him.”
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, the 60-year-old father recounted the version of events they were given. “My daughter fell down. When she fell down, the guy hit her with a baseball stick. He went and drove his car and came back, and picked her up and threw her in a lake a mile from the mosque.”
“He followed the girls, and all of them had head cloths, meaning they are Muslim, and he had a baseball stick,” said Egyptian-born Hassanen who moved to the US in 1987.
Social media have been flooded with shock and resentment, with Muslims calling on authorities to investigate the murder as a hate crime, not as a road rage incident.