Another tragedy unfolds on American soil, adding to an already lengthy list of violent acts this year. The recent Father’s Day weekend became a lifetime of sorrow for the father of 17 year-old Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim girl whose body was found in a Virginia pond the day after Ramadan prayer.
Nabra attended the previous night’s Ramadan services which take place over night. Afterwards, she and a few friends left All Dulles Area Muslim Society center in Sterling and made their way to McDonald’s at 4am to get breakfast. This is said to be a typical ritual during the Ramadan Holiday since the day’s fasting begins at Sunrise.
At this time of the night, 22 year-old Darwin Martinez Torres was driving around the area and is said to have had a heated verbal exchange with Nabra and her friends. According to the Huffington Post, it wasn’t long before Martinez Torres exited the car with a bat, causing Nabra’s friends to scramble and leave the scene. Once leaders at All Dulles Area Muslim Society center were notified, authorities began the search for Nabra and found her lifeless and beaten figure submerged in water a few hours later. The investigation of this crime remains open but is already being ruled out as an act of murder—which it is, but the nature of this crime should not be left out. While the act is murder itself, the details of the attack serve as evidence related to racism and prejudice. With recent events across the globe, hate crimes have definitely become an issue, with the Muslim community being one of the main targets. Almost as if the stars of hate aligned, the morning after this unfortunate event in Virginia around the same time Nabra’s body was found, a van rammed into a group of Muslim worshippers in London. So many questions arise at each part of this scenario. There is no sense behind the frigid idea of a random, unaffiliated man finding his way into a Muslim Community, arguing with a group of girls in hijabs, and ultimately beating one to death.
Hate is hate and cannot be swept under the rug with a simpler sentence of murder. The disturbing fact is that murder, although a tragedy, reflects issues within the murderer or the relationship between the murderer and victim. On the other side of the deal, a HATE crime reflects so much more and on a massively greater scale. It reflects the issues within not only our society and country, but our WORLD.
We can’t allow the idea of these two crimes to combine enough to the point where a hate crime is quickly labeled a casual murder when the hate is evident. Once we succumb to the words written by the higher media and government pen, we lose freedom of our eyes, hearts, and minds and become immune to the hate, racism, sexism, patriarchy, violence, and intolerance that is being built in our midst. This is real and happening right on your doorstep—scratch that—on your doorstep, through your door, past your coat rack and into your home. In a country where Muslims are banned, Immigrants are shamed, people of color are disrespected, and all the hate from these actions is being carried out, one can’t deny the obvious. Even though recent events and public figures have ignited immense hatred and upheaval, the nature of these hateful crimes is not anything new to the block: In a 2015 study, NBC News finds that most hate crimes are motivated by race at 48% of the data and religion comes at a close second.
In George Orwell’s legendary 1984, their society is an extremely manipulated dystopian system where the political figure tells citizens what to believe, think, and even speak. The protagonist in the book tries his best to never give into the black and white society filled with cover up lies, but in the end he too falls victim to the government and media's claws and admits that he does "Love Big Brother". Perhaps for now we can all agree to accept the murder accusation of this hate crime and just move on with our lives. But should we?
Nineteen-year-old Valentina Rueda resides in hot-n’-humid South Florida where she is currently working on her AA degree and saving money to transfer to UCF, where she plans to complete her Bachelor’s in Journalism and double major in Sociology. She enjoys writing about her daily theories of the world around her and has a special love for serving people.