The father of the murdered Muslim teenager Nabra Hassanen has said he believes his daughter was “100%” killed because of her faith, despite police ruling that it was not a hate crime.
Mohmoud Hassanen was asked by The Guardian if his daughter was killed “because she was Muslim”. “I believe so, 100%,” he replied. “In the McDonald’s there’s a lot of kids, a lot of people; why did he run behind this girl especially? For what?
“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.”
The teenage girl was accosted by a passing motorist while leaving the International House of Pancakes early Sunday morning. The girl and her friends, who were dressed in traditional Muslim robes, had just finished their last meal of the day before their Ramadan fast.
Local police say the motorist got out of his car and began assaulting the teenager. Her friends ran for help at a local mosque, setting off an 11-hour police hunt for the missing girl.
While searching for Ms Hassanen, police officers saw Darwin Martinez Torres driving suspiciously and arrested him as a suspect, before charging him with murder.
The mosque, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (Adams), has 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.
In a statement issued later that day, the police department attributed the incident to “road rage”.
“This tragic case appears to be the result of a road rage incident involving the suspect, who was driving and who is now charged with murder, and a group of teenagers who was walking and riding bikes in and along a roadway,” the department said.
The department that they would pursue any new information that indicated Hassanen had been targeted for her race or religion.
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.