The brutal murder of a teenage Muslim girl in the US state of Virginia has sparked outrage among Muslim communities across the country.
Nabra Hassanen, 17, was kidnapped from near a mosque in northern Virginia and repeatedly hit with a baseball bat by a man named Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, on Sunday. Nabra died from blunt force trauma to the upper body.
The girl was walking with friends when she was attacked and beaten to death. Her body was later found in Sterling area, outside Washington with signs of beating. Torres has been charged with the killing.
Police say the killing is 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.
“There is nothing at this point to indicate that this tragic case was a hate crime. No evidence has been recovered that showed this was a hate crime. Nothing indicates it was motivated by race or religion,” claimed Julie Parker, a spokeswoman for Fairfax County police.
She added that if evidence surfaces that does point to a hate crime, “at that point detectives would obviously take the investigation in that direction.”
‘My daughter was killed because she was Muslim’
In a phone interview with The Guardian on Monday afternoon, Nabra’s father, Mohmoud Hassanen, rejected the police claim. “I don’t believe this story. I tell the detective the same thing.”
“He killed my daughter because she is Muslim. That’s what I believe. That’s what I told him,” the 60-year-old father said.
According to a statement by the Fairfax County Police Department, the girl was with her friends when they engaged in a dispute with a motorist, who left his car and assaulted them.
Nabra's friends, who had scattered around during the brawl, could not find her at the scene afterwards, the statement added.
‘Why did you do this to my daughter?’
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, the 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 said.
“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.
“I told the detective: ‘I want to ask him one question. Why did he do that? Because he doesn’t like Muslims, or what?’ He tells me he has no answer for that. This answer is going to be in the court.”
“When I go to court I’m going to look him in the eye: why did you do this to my daughter? Then I’m going to forgive him and leave him to God’s face. The lord is going to judge him. He took my daughter’s life,” he said.
Social media have been flooded with shock and resentment, with Muslims calling on authorities to investigate the murder as a hate crime.