CIOGC joined dozens of faith and social justice organizations on June 22 as part of a prayer vigil for Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old Muslim teen who was brutally murdered in Fairfax County, Virginia in an apparent hate crime attack. Groups in attendance included Arab American Action Network (AAAN), Arab American Family Services (AAFS), Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago, Chicagoland Shura Council, and Take On Hate – Chicago, which organized the event.
To the shock of communities across the nation, authorities in Fairfax County are describing the incident as a case of “road rage.” Nabra’s memorial was also set on fire in Washington, D.C. by an individual who drove from South Carolina to commit the crime. Once again, authorities did not consider this a hate crime, charging the criminal with vandalism instead.
Faith and social justice organizations, including Nabra’s family and community, are demanding that officials investigate her murder as a hate crime. Her murder did not only horrify her community in Virginia, but Muslims all around the U.S. This tragic loss of life comes at a time of increasing acts of violence and hate directed against Muslims, their mosques, and other people of faith and their houses of worship here in the United States and abroad.
Abdullah Mitchell, CIOGC’s Executive Director echoed that sentiment with these words: “If we can all continue to speak out against the poison of hate, the tide of violence it spawns can be turned back. It’s when we sit back and say nothing that this continues to grow, and grow, and grow.” He also spoke from the perspective of being a parent himself, and shared his prayer that Allah grant Nabra’s family ease in this very difficult and painful time.
Ahlam Jbara of Take On Hate Chicago shared the story of her 16-year-old daughter, who, along with a group of her friends, were verbally harassed with racial slurs as they were leaving a Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Hickory Hills. The story became a national headline story after activists and community organizers rallied and garnered support to defend the young women.
Jbara said, “We are not going to be silent. We are going to stop all hatemongering.” She added that teamwork is the key when dealing with such instances of hate. She ended by saying, “I hope that we can all stand together as a community, and we can all say no to hate.”
CIOGC urges the community to contact the Fairfax County Police Department at (703) 324-7329 or via email at [email protected] and demand that Nabra’s death be investigated as a hate crime. For more information on Take on Hate – Chicago and for next steps, visit www.takeonhate.org.
Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago