Raleigh mourners: Slain Muslim teen in Va. represents all 'sisters in Islam'
Posted June 21
Raleigh, N.C. — The brother of one of three young people slain in 2015 added his voice Wednesday to mourners nationwide remembering Nabra Hassanen, 17, who was bludgeoned with a baseball bat Sunday in Virginia.
Farris Barakat, brother of Deah Barakat- who was killed in Chapel Hill along with his wife, Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Abu-Salha- said he drove to Virginia to show his support and comfort anyone impacted by Hassanen’s death.
Police said a person approached Hassanen early Sunday while she and about 15 other Muslim teenagers walked or bicycled along the road and became enraged after exchanging words with a boy in the group.
On Wednesday evening, The Lighthouse, a nonprofit founded by Farris Barakat, held a vigil to honor Hassanen and express concerns about the investigation.
Many in the group of mourners who gathered in Raleigh expressed frustration that investigators in Virginia are not investigating Hassanen’s death as a hate crime.
Virginia investigators are calling Hassanen's beating death a road rage incident, but Muslim women at the vigil were skeptical of that assessment.
"This whole week, I've been going to the Masjid every night and coming home late at the same hour and I've been going to places with my friends late at night just so I can prepare for Ramadan in the last final days. It could have been me," said Yasmin Ali.
While many didn’t know Hassanen personally, her death has shaken the Muslim community and mourners believe she was targeted because of her religion.
“I think it’s personal just because when we look at a girl like Nabra, we see our sisters in Islam, we see anybody that’s part of the community that could be targeted because of how they represent their faith,” said Lighthouse volunteer Niwal Sheikh.
Chapel Hill police said the shooting death of Deah Barakat, Mohammad and Abu-Salha stemmed from a parking dispute at an apartment complex, but Farris Barakat always maintained the trio was targeted because they were Muslim.
Autopsy results showed that all three were shot in the head.
Craig Stephen Hicks is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the deaths.
Most who attended Wednesday's vigil said they believe their faith teaches them that there is a better way to fight violence.
"It's exhausting to be angry all the time. I do think we need to work through that but I don't think it's sustainable as a long-time emotion and I think the only way we achieve progress is if we return to compassion," said Triangle resident Maryam Ahmed.
That compassion extended to an exchange of hugs and flowers and a chance to heal as one community.
"In Islam, we are taught that the Uma, which means the community, is like a human body so when one part of the human body aches, the rest of the body aches," said Abdul Khadri.