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Thousands walk to slain Muslim teen's funeral in Virginia

26 June 2017

Hassanen was murdered early Sunday morning as she walked with a group of teens to a mosque in Fairfax County.

An attendee leaves flowers for Nabra Hassanen, a teenage Muslim girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque, during a vigil in New York City.

What do we know about the man police say killed Nabra, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres?

The killing of Nabra Hassanen on Sunday also prompted calls from civil liberties advocates and her supporters to investigate her killing as a possible hate crime, including almost 12,000 people * a href="https://www.thepetitionsite.com/630/093/204/***/" *who signed an online petition to the Virginia Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Justice Department.

Hassanen's funeral was being held Wednesday afternoon at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society - the mosque she was walking to with friends early Sunday when police say her group was confronted by a motorist, Darwin Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old from El Salvador suspected of being in the USA illegally.

Abas Sherif, a spokesman for the Hassenen family, told local media that Nabra and the other girls in her group were wearing the hijab - a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion - and loose clothing when the attack occurred.

On Wednesday evening, The Lighthouse, a nonprofit founded by Farris Barakat, held a vigil to honor Hassanen and express concerns about the investigation.

A funeral service is planned for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday for Hassanen at her northern Virginia mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.

The FBI defines a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated" by an offender's bias against a certain race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity. Fairfax County police said Martinez Torres chased the youngsters with a baseball bat, catching up with Hassanen and beating her after her friends had scattered.

Then, police say, he drove off with her in his auto, attacked her again and dumped her body in a pond.

While authorities maintain that none of the evidence found in Hassanen's murder indicates that this was motivated by race or religion, it will be very hard to argue the same for this act of arson.

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"It appears the suspect became so enraged over the traffic dispute it escalated into deadly violence".

Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and Muslim activist ridiculed the idea it was road rage, saying on Twitter: "If you think for a minute that her appearance had nothing to do with this crime, you're lying to yourself".

What's triggering hate crimes in the US? His public defender's office has declined to comment.

He asked that anyone with evidence to that effect come forward, AP says, and added that "if evidence develops of a hate crime, I promise we will charge to the highest levels".

Joining the mourners was Lamia Sarver of McLean, who said she does not usually attend ADAMS, but wanted to support the Hassanen family.

"Where is Nabra?" she keeps asking, Mohmoud said during an emotional interview.

"If you knew her you might possibly know why it was so hard for this community", said Salaam. Such meals are common during the month of Ramadan, when many Muslims fast from dawn to sundown.

She said she has told her own teenage daughter not to attend late-night Ramadan prayers and services with friends, so she won't be a target. "She went with a group of friends from the mosque to get food", said Kashif Osman, with The Light House Project.

In those cases, the suspects allegedly made repeated anti-Muslim slurs before and during the attacks.

Police in Virginia are continuing to investigate Sunday's fatal attack.