What was supposed to be a morning of prayer and reflection in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan ended in tragedy when 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was fatally attacked as she headed back to a Virginia mosque after enjoying a pre-dawn meal with friends.
Hassanen died of blunt force trauma to her upper body after 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres assaulted her with a baseball bat early Sunday in what police have described as a road rage incident in suburban Washington, authorities said Monday.
Police said Martinez Torres attacked the girl after getting into a fight with another teen in the group and they have found no evidence to suggest Hassanen's killing was a hate crime.
"Nothing indicates that this was motivated by race or by religion. It appears the suspect became so enraged over this traffic argument that it escalated into deadly violence," Fairfax County Police Spokeswoman Julie Parker said.
The lack of a hate crime investigation provoked deep skepticism among some American Muslims. Abas Sherif, a spokesman for the victim's family, said Nabra and all the other girls in her group were wearing Muslim head coverings and loose Islamic robes when the driver approached.
"Road rage. Indeed. If you think for a minute that her appearance had nothing to do with this crime, you're lying to yourself," tweeted attorney Rabia Chaudry, a prominent Muslim activist who lives in the Washington suburbs.
Chaudry said the girl's death has prompted her to forbid her 20-year-old daughter from going out in the middle of the night without a parent. ADAMS is one of the largest mosques in the country and is particularly busy during Ramadan. Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, and since Ramadan this year overlaps with the summer solstice, and sunrise occurs well before 6 a.m., some Muslims will eat large meals in predawn hours.
"I know I said that out of fear, and just feeling helpless. ... But the truth is, Nabra could've been attacked at any time of the day," Chaudry said.
The girl's father, Mohmoud Hassanen Aboras of Reston, said he doesn't understand how this could have happened because his daughter was a friend to everyone.
Aboras emigrated from southern Egypt and has three younger daughters, who like Nabra were born in the U.S. He's not particularly interested in knowing why his daughter was attacked or whether it could be considered a hate crime. His daughter is gone, regardless.
"My daughter is dead, and I don't want anyone to feel what I feel, to lose your 17-year-old daughter ... Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hispanic, whatever," he said, surrounded by more than a dozen friends and family in his apartment.