Nabra Hassanen – Killing of Muslim teen used to be not a hate crime, police say

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One day after what appeared to be the remains of a 17-year-old Muslim girl were discovered in a pond in Virginia, police have said her murder was not a hate crime.

The teenager and her friends were leaving the International House of Pancakes early Sunday morning when a motorist drove by and began arguing with them. The girls, dressed in traditional Muslim robes, had just finished their last meal of the day before their Ramadan fast.

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Nabra Hassanen: Killing of Muslim teenager was not a hate crime, police say

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Local police say the motorist got out of his car and began assaulting the girl, identified by family members as Nabra Hassanen. Her friends ran for help at a local mosque, setting off an 11-hour police hunt for the missing teenager.

While searching for Ms Hassanen, police officers saw Darwin Martinez Torres driving suspiciously and arrested him as a suspect.

Nabra Hassanen: Killing of Muslim teenager was not a hate crime, police say

They later found female remains, which they believe to be Ms Hassanen’s, in a nearby pond.

The teenager’s dress, and her proximity to the mosque, led some to believe the murder may have been a hate crime. The mosque, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (Adams), called on law enforcement to determine the motive of the crime and “prosecute to the full extent of the law”.

“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” it said in a statement.

Juvenile court officials, however, told The Independent that Martinez had not been charged with a hate crime. He appeared in court on Monday to face one count of second-degree murder.

The Fairfax County police also said they were not investigating the incident as a hate crime. Police department spokesperson Don Gotthardt told The Independent there was “no indication” that the crime was connected to Ms Hassanen’s religion, dress, or proximity to the mosque.

There was also no indication that the two knew each other before the incident.

Martinez is currently being held without bail at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Centre. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 19 July. It was not immediately clear whether he had entered a plea to the charges against him.

At a gathering with family and friends on Sunday night, the teenager’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar, asked them to “pray for me that I can handle this”.

“I lost my daughter, my first reason for happiness,” she said.

“I can’t think of a worse instance to occur than the loss of a 17-year-old on Father’s Day, as the father of a 17-year-old myself,” Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman told reporters.

Adams Mosque said it plans to continue daily and nightly Ramadan prayers. The alleged attack occurred just six days before the end of the Islamic holy month.

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