When her manager at McDonald's wanted her to work before an exam, Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim teenager from Virginia, decided to quit the job, her first-ever. She was that dedicated to her school work. She loved fashion and makeup; she was especially proud of her nose ring.
On Sunday, however, Hassanen's life came to an abrupt end. Officials say that Hassanen was murdered, but that they are not investigating the slaying as a hate crime.
According to The Washington Post, Hassanen and some friends were returning from a local Virginia IHOP early on Sunday morning when they were confronted by a motorist. All but one — Hassanen — ran to the a nearby mosque for shelter, according to Deputy Aleksandra Kowalski, a spokesperson for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office. According to a Facebook post by the mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Hassanen was left behind because the motorist got out of the car and assaulted the teenage girl. Later that day, around 3 p.m., police found remains thought to belong to Hassanen disposed of in a nearby pond. Soon after police charged a 22-year-old man suspected of committing the murder.
"We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event," the All Dulles Area Muslim Society said in a statement. "It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth."
The night before, the popular and sociable Hassanen had hosted an iftar, a Ramadan breaking-the-fast meal, for her friends. Sawsan Gazzar, Hassanen's mother, had cooked a big meal, and when it was over a friend's mom drove Hassanen and others to the All Dulles mosque for midnight prayers. Afterward the teens went to eat at IHOP, which was typical for late-night Ramadan festivities.
According to the Post, Hassanen wasn't ordinarily observant of Muslim religious customs; she primarily partook just in Ramadan traditions, as the mosque became a place for teens to congregate during that time. Hassanen's mother even had to lend her traditional women's garb so that she could attend the prayers. Gazzar said that a detective told her that when the man in the automobile started shouting at the teens, her daughter tripped over the long traditional garments just before the man struck her.
According to Post reporters, Hassanen's family's apartment was filled with mourners after the news of the 17-year-old's untimely death spread. "Please pray for me, please pray for me," Gazzar sobbed in Arabic, according to the Post. When her brother and sister called from Egypt, Gazzar told them: "Pray for me that I can handle this ... I lost my daughter, my first reason for happiness."