Activist: Psychological Impact of Teen’s Killing Will Have Lasting Effect

by Kalina Newman June 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm 21 Comments

As the community continues to recover after last week’s brutal killing of a Reston teenager, one activist says the psychological impact on surviving youth will live on.

“For many of us in Northern Virginia, it’s really during Ramadan where we carve out special places to feel like home,” said Aya Saed, a Harvard Law School student and organizer for the Deeply Rooted Retreat for Black Muslim Youth. “For the crime to have happened in this moment is really quite traumatic to young people who are just starting to creating safe spaces for themselves and forever.”

Saed and other prominent members of the area’s Muslim community appeared on “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” today on WAMU to reflect on the slaying of Nabra Hassanen and discuss its implications on a future generation of Muslim children.

Nabra, 17, was attacked and abducted in the early morning hours June 18 while walking back from McDonald’s after an overnight service at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society. She was beaten to death and her body was found in a Loudoun County pond. Fairfax County police say that her killing followed an extreme case of road rage.

“Any time this type of incident happens, it runs deep,” said Joshua Salaam, ADAMS Center chaplain, of the community atmosphere following Nabra’s death. “Any individual can point back to five [or] six incidents in the last year where the victim was a Muslim.”

Carmel Delshad, a news producer for WAMU, said young Muslims are fearful in a time when violence against them appears to be increasing.

“I think mosques are doing what they can to ensure extra security measures in place,” she said. “People are looking over their shoulder [and] they’re taking self-defense classes just to be prepared.”

Saed said that kids Nabra’s age, both locally and elsewhere in the country, have been rocked by what happened to her that morning.

“It’s worth talking about the kinds of psychological impact this is having,” she said. “For many young Muslims, this is the only reality that they know in the United States.”

Despite continued police insistence that they have no evidence pointing toward anything that would officially constitute a hate crime, some members of the community feel differently about the motivations of the suspect, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres.

“It’s virtually impossible to point out someone’s intent,” Salaam said. “The evidence suggests that while there was road rage to incite the man to get out of the car, there was something else at play to carry out the alleged sexual assault and murder of Nabra.”

Salaam said the crime has brought about a “general hysteria and fear” in the community. He added, though, that the community has faith in the work of the Fairfax County Police Department.

The immigration status of Torres, a Salvadoran national who was living in Sterling, has also been a hot topic since Nabra’s death. George Escobar, senior director for Health and Human Services for immigrant support group CASA, said there are no correlations between immigration status and increase in crime.

“Consistent studies have come out stating that immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes,” Escobar said. “You see tragic situations like this, and you start to see innuendo and right-wing elements interceding and painting another picture.”

Salaam said not a lot is known about Torres.

“I’ve spoken to neighbors [of Torres] that have said there’s been no indication of violence,” Salaam said. “He’s a total question mark.”

Salaam continued on to say that the Muslim community believes it is important to get to know other people from different backgrounds and learn about them.

“When you don’t, all you know about them is something you’ve heard from the media,” he said. “We have a long-term agenda to get to know one another better, whether you’re American by title or not. You still live here.”

  • Mike M

    1) I am having a hard time accepting The storyline that Muslims are generally the victim these days. (Why is that?)

    2) Objective observation tells me that Muslims tend to huddle together in places like their dubiously funded Islamic Centers. They seem to mingle when they have to do so for employment and other essentials.

    3) Muslims seem strangely silent on the topic of indiscriminate mass murder in the name of – you know who. Why is that?


    • wow!

      Found the racist!

      • 40yearsinreston

        islam is not a race

        • wow!

          Bigot a better word? Ignoramus? Or something worse?

          • Mike M

            How about, “I wish what you said weren’t true and I have a hard time squaring it with my beliefs.

            Or is it all about the name calling?

            Enlighten me. Which of my observations are so completely off base? Have you the intellect?

          • Jeff

            Different poster but your initial comments in this thread is not necessary germane to this particular incident. They were just generalities based upon common sociological elements found within most sociogroups

            1. Most groups usually self identify themselves as the wronged party and point to others as the ones that inflict some type of damage upon them. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

            .2. Again, this phenomenon is not singular to Muslims. Churches tend to be one of the most segregated places in the US. And once people leave their youth, they tend to associately usulally with people that are like minded, Be it based on political views, religion or other self identifiers.

            3. See 1 and 2. People usually see their group as the group in the right. You Mr Mike believe that your views are absolute in their correctness and the other side has to wrong. Again. the truth probably is somewhere in the middel And do you really want to talk about all of the people that have been killed in the name of religion? Muslims are not alone in that as well.

          • Mike M

            I stand by everything I said and asked. Questions are absolute? I might just know more about the schism between Islam and the “others” than do you.

            To your points: The article was about the Islamic community. It’s 2017. It would be silly and bigoted and ignorant to hold anyone white or Christian accountable for the Crusades, for example, in 2017. Just silly. So, don’t even go there. But Liberals and Muslims do. I am talking about today. Besides, what has become conventional wisdom about the Crusades is almost entirely wrong and gratuitously anti-European and anti-Christian.

            If you believe my views are wrong, how come you don’t simply refute them? Enlighten me.

            PS: Jeff, no need to address me as Mr.

          • Jeff

            I was including Crusades in my comment but was not limiting it to that time period. Many of the fringe supremacist groups in 2017 base their ideology on their take on religious doctrine. I lump the people who commit violent atrocities in the name of Islam in the same group of people that do so in the name of any other religion. I don’t believe represent the religion as a whole.

            I actually don’t disagree with all of your views. Sometimes you are spot on.. but sometimes you seem to fall into the same traps you accuse others of. I’m not a liberal but also not a strict conservative either. Since I don’t fall into either box. I try to avoid putting others in a box of their own but sometimes unfortunately I am guilty of that as well. Most iniformed opinions whether I agree with them or not have some truth in them. You can find statistics to back up almost anything.

          • TheKingJAK

            I agree with what you’re saying, but I also think it’s fair to point out at this point in history that Islam as a whole simply has far more people both in total numbers and per capita who are trying to drag civilization into the gutter and destroy it. This destruction isn’t simply via the utilization of direct violence, but also via mass migration and dangerous mob mentalities. Every group of people, individuals included, are capable of terrorism, violence, and invasions, and yes, you are correct in that Islam certainly has no patent on such acts. Islam does, however, possess the most serious fundamentalism problem, and if Muslims keep ignoring such internal problems in favor of pointing fingers at others then they will never solve anything.

          • Mike M

            Their patent is quite current.

          • Senile Halfwit

            Funny how you use the murder of a young lady as a platform to promote your outlandish belief system. Then you turn around and accuse those that find fault with your thinking as “demonize”rs.

            Radicalized much?

          • 40yearsinreston

            The Saudis are funding Salafists

      • Mike M

        Thanks for your incisive input – name calling. Well done. All you have though, I am sure.

    • Nabra in heaven

      I dont see how any of your thinking, in error or not, justifies and/or somehow rights the wrong of killing Nabra.

      Perhaps stay on topic. Because we love Nabra in more ways than you could ever imagine.

      • Mike M

        The topic of the article was how the Muslim community feels. There were statements made by some from Muslim community. I was addressing those statements. I think you know that I said nothing to “justify” such a wanton and indiscriminate murder. You are playing a game to demonize those with whom you do not want to agree. It’s all too familiar, and in this case, repulsive. How dare you speak on behalf of this person.

        • Nabra in heaven

          I see through your repetitive argument and reverse logic spin and how it does not apply to the case of Nabra.

          This is not about you, this is for Nabra. We love Nabra.

          Forever and always.

          • 40yearsinreston

            Typical juvenile

          • 40yearsinreston

            Juvenile reaction

    • 40yearsinreston

      Dont mind the professional victims
      It seems that this fellow assaulted another woman
      Sorry to spoil their narrative

    • JerryG

      Privileged much? Just because you choose not to see the suffering and trauma of minority youth doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just speak with a psychologist dealing with minority youth or a school counselor. It is very real, whether you want to believe it or not.

      • Mike M

        Privilege, indeed. Try thinking youth instead of minority youth. Try thinking of challenges rather than victimhood.


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