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The Danger Of Confronting Islamophobia To Its Face


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M.K. Ansari


This Fathers’ Day, a Muslim family in Virginia is coming to terms with the gruesome murder of their daughter, Nabra Hassanen.

As the bereaved family—and Muslim in America— struggle to come to terms with this tragedy in the last few days of the holy month of Ramadan, the murder brings up the question again:

What’s the best way to stand up to hate?

Last week, a former colleague from my days at Thomson Reuters called me up, to interview me for a story. He was writing on hate in the Trump era. He addressed therecent Portland train stabbings and asked me what I thought was the best way for bystanders (or victims) to stand up to Islamophobia.

“Passive resistance” I told him. “If you ever see a Muslim confronted by an Islamophobic bigot, calmly figure out the best way to shield the Muslim and help get them out of there. Then, call the authorities. Don’t stand up to them.”

Forget the ideas of confronting the bully. Physical confrontation helps no-one.

Get yourself the [bleep] out of there, ASAP.

In the Trump era, racists have become emboldened and empowered.

The suspect in Nabra Hassanen’s murder is 22 year old Darwin Martinez Torres. According to Fauquier Times, Hassanen was with a group of friends leaving late night prayers when Torres pulled up in his car, leading to an altercation between the group.

Other accounts tell a more one-sided story where Torres drove up to the group and hurled insults, eventually getting out with a bat and attacking Hassanen, while her friends ran back to get help.

Whatever the story, the end result was the same. Nabra Hassanen’s lifeless remains where found in a nearby pond.

My journalist friend asked me another question:

Did I feel that Islamophobes were more emboldened in the Trump era? And if I did, do I prefer people being honest about their racism, or did I prefer more tacit racism, less in-your-face bigotry?


I told him that I much preferred the geysers over the volcanoes.

The reason, I cited, was the concept of naive realism and “groupthink”, as Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross lay out in their book, The Wisest One in the Room.

Basically, people think that everyone thinks like them. They also tend to side with the group’s opinion. Of course, in the age of Facebook, “the group” are all of those people in our little bubbles, who are just like us.

In the Trump era, racists have become emboldened and empowered. Bigotry has come out of hiding and is hitting us in the face. “Groupthink” now tells them that they were right— that everyone does think like them.

Taboos have an interesting role in all of this. When a society is left-leaning and liberal, racism is taboo. And with that taboo, you can’t openly express your bigotry or Islamophobia without feeling like it’s wrong.

As a result, hate simmers and gains pressure, only to come out in small bursts at a time, like a pressure cooker.

Hate isn’t a reasonable discourse. It’s downright dangerous.

But what we have under Trump is a full blown explosion of hate.

Taboos against racism, however, have a counterproductive role as well. With racist dialogue being taboo, label of “racist” become taboo, too. Nobody wants to be called a racist.

That results in things like justification and rationalization of the racism, according to Australian researchers Martha Augoustinos and Danielle Every, in their paperAccusations and Denial of Racism: Managing moral accountability in public discourse.

We’ve seen this in the Black Lives Matter movement, where people justify racism with phrases like “black-on-black violence.” Similarly, we’ve seen this with the Islamophobic idea of “takiyya” (an obscure and rarely used Shiite Islamic concept), whereIslamphobes justify hate against all Muslims (even the liberal ones) because they claim that every Muslim is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, just pretending to act “secular”.

We’re not living in simple times. Hate and Islamophobia are unleashed. The volcano has erupted. The hate is real. I commend the three men who stood up to a bigot in Portland. My heart breaks for the DC Muslim Community as they grapple with the loss of a 17-year-old girl.

But nobody should try to be a physical hero against Islamophobia. If someone hurls insults at you, don’t fight him. Get yourself the [expletive] out of there. If you see a young girl being attacked, calmly try to get her to safety. Hate isn’t a reasonable discourse. It’s downright dangerous.




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Muslim teen assaulted outside U.S. mosque, found murdered in Virginia


...The number of anti-Muslim bias incidents in the United States jumped 57 percent in 2016 to 2,213, up from 1,409 in 2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said in a report last month.

While the group had been seeing a rise in anti-Muslim incidents prior to Donald Trump's stunning rise in last year's presidential primaries and November election victory, it said the acceleration in bias incidents was due in part to Trump's focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

In an incident in London on Monday, a van ploughed into worshippers leaving a mosque, killing at least one person and injuring several in what Britain's largest Muslim organization said was a deliberate act of Islamophobia.

Isra Chaker, a person who said in a Facebook post that she was close to a family friend of the victim in the Virginia incident, said the driver came out with a baseball bat and began swinging it at the girls, Chaker said.

"She then went missing (presumably kidnapped/moved by the suspect) and was found dead this afternoon," Chaker said.

An online fundraiser for the girl's family had raised $61,606 by Sunday evening.

Police said a medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm the victim's identity and cause of death, though detectives believe the body found in the pond was the missing girl.



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‘Muslims Feel Under Siege’

A 17-year-old woman murdered after leaving a mosque in Virginia. For American Muslims, Ramadan has been a charged time.


Muslim Americans are mourning—and terrified—after two violent incidents left worshippers dead over the weekend during the holy month of Ramadan. In London, a 48-year-old man drove a van into a group of Muslims who had been attending evening prayers at a mosque. Ten people were wounded, and one person was killed.

In Sterling, Virginia, a 17-year-old Muslim woman named Nabra Hassanen was murdered near her local mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, known locally as the ADAMS Center. She was walking back to the mosque with a group of teens after grabbing food at IHOP following late-night prayers, according to The Washington Post. Fairfax police say the group got into a dispute with a man in a car, suspected to be 22-year-old Darwin A. Martinez Torres. The other girls ran away, but Hassanen was left behind. Authorities recovered what they believe to be her remains in a nearby pond less than a day later. According to the Post, police told Hassanen’s mother that the girl had been struck with a metal bat.

Within minutes of the London attack, police had declared it a terrorist incident. But the police in Fairfax County, Virginia, are not investigating Hassanen’s death as a hate crime, the department said on social media. In its statements, the ADAMS Center community has been careful not to blame the crime on discrimination or religious bias. But that doesn’t change how people are feeling: devastated and scared.

“When Muslims in the United States hear about this, it’s not just about the ADAMS community or the family members who just lost their daughter or their niece or their sister this weekend,” said Engy Abdelkader, a senior fellow at Georgetown University who lives in area. “The entire Muslim American community hears about it and experiences this kind of vicarious trauma.” While people in the Muslim community are trying to reserve judgment while law enforcement investigates, she added, “I think they feel under siege. This is part of a larger pattern.”


Within hours of the announcement of Hassanen’s death, news had spread widely on social media. Community members quickly started to mobilize in support of the family. Khadijah Abdullah, a Muslim woman who is part of the ADAMS Center, helped organize a LaunchGood campaign to raise money for Hassanen’s family. Within 24 hours, over $164,000 had been pledged. “She was a baby,” Abdullah said. “She could have been any of our children. It affects us deeply.”

Rana Abdelhamid, a 24-year-old Muslim woman who lives in New York, started organizing vigils in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. She told me people from all over the country have been in touch about putting together similar events. Hundreds of people have said on Facebook that they’re planning to attend. Many, like Abdelhamid, seem to recognize themselves or their friends and relatives in Hassanen.

“It’s horrifying,” Abdelhamid said. Just two nights ago, she said, she was “doing the same exact thing that Nabra was doing: I was coming out from a prayer at 2 a.m., going to find a place to eat at 3 a.m.” During the holy month of Ramadan, many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, attending late-night prayers and gathering for nightly meals to break the fast, called iftars. Sometimes they’ll go out for late-night meals after praying. “This is very much something that young people do all the time in Muslim America,” Abdelhamid said.

An official with the Fairfax County Police Media Relations Bureau said “there’s no indication that the crime was motivated by hate or bias,” but “it’s not definitive.” The case is still in its early stages, he said, and “subject to change as information is gathered. I think the intent behind that tweet was to tamp down the fervor over it possibly being or possibly not being [a hate crime].” People were drawing conclusions about the incident, he added, “because of its proximity to the mosque.”  

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh, the prosecutor in the case, told WTOP’s Neil Augenstein, “Let’s wait until we get all the information and I’ll make the judgment.”

Late on Monday afternoon, the Fairfax County Police Department released additional information about the incident, calling “the tragic case … the result of a road rage incident involving the suspect, who was driving and who is now charged with murder.” Officials reaffirmed that they do not believe it was motivated by bias: “Our investigation at this point in no way indicates the victim was targeted because of her race or religion,” they said.

Abdelkader framed the attacks as part of a string of violence during Ramadan. On the first day of the holiday, two men were killed and another was injured in a stabbing attack on a train in Portland when they tried to shield two girls from 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian’s verbal attacks, including comments against Muslims. Abdelkader also cited an altercation in Ohio in which a Somali American woman, Rahma Warsame, was severely beaten after arguing with a white couple, which police also say was not a hate crime. It can be extremely difficult for officials to establish bias-related motives, or to disentangle the complicated mix of motives in individual cases, even when the victims are visibly identifiable as Muslim.

As Muslims enter the last 10 days of Ramadan—the most intense part of the holiday—Hassanen’s murder is another reminder of the potential for violence during worship. “Last night, I did not go to prayer,” Abdelhamid said. “I definitely feel like mosques are hot spots right now … It’s a really scary question to have to think about, to be honest—to even have to be in the state of mind where you have to ask the question, ‘Is it safe for me to go pray?’”



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Killing of Muslim teen stirs questions about hate crime prosecutions



The horrific weekend slaying of Virginia high school student Nabra Hassanen has prompted calls from civil liberties advocates to investigate her killing as a possible hate crime.

Virginia police officials initially said there is no indication the 17-year-old was targeted because of her religion and that her killing was a “road rage incident” as she and a group of other teens walked and biked along a street headed back to a mosque early Sunday.

But Nabra’s family feels certain she was abducted and killed because she was wearing Islamic clothing as she returned to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling after the group had gone out for a late night bite to eat amid their Ramadan observance.

A Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization criticized police on Tuesday for settling too soon on road rage as motivator and said the killing should be seen in the context of a rise in hate crimes targeting Muslims across the country.

“We think it’s premature,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic relations known as CAIR. “We believe these incidents are at the core motivated by the perception that these subjects are Muslim.”

Nabra’s family has said she was wearing a long women’s garment known as an abaya and a hijab head covering.

Her funeral service is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sterling mosque, Hooper said.

Her beating, abduction and murder were clearly hateful acts, but bringing formal hate crime charges is more complicated. Proving a hate crime in court requires showing overt bias, that a person was motivated, for instance, by the victim’s religion, ethnicity, national origin or gender.

According to the police, Darwin Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old construction worker, argued a teen on a bike who was part of the group before jumping a curb with his car and chasing the larger group before catching up to Nabra in a parking lot, where he is accused of hitting her with a baseball bat, abducting her and later killing her. The other teens reported what had happened — and that Nabra had fallen as they all fled — when they got back to the mosque around 4 a.m. Sunday, prompting a police search by Fairfax and neighboring Loudoun counties and the arrest of Torres within hours after a Fairfax officer noticed Torres circling near the crime scene, police have said.

Nabra’s body was found in a pond Sunday afternoon based on leads that police have not detailed.

Fairfax County police said at a Monday news conference they have turned up no slurs or other evidence that Martinez Torres was motivated to kill Nabra because of her religion.

Even so, they continue to probe the case and would revise their initial assessment if evidence of a hate crime is found, they have said.

Most hate-crime cases are handled by state prosecutors, and typically carry stiffer penalties than crimes charged without a bias component. Forty-five states and the District have specific hate-crimes laws. But most differ on what acts qualify and some leave it to judges to decide whether to impose stiffer penalties at the time of sentencing.

Virginia’s hate-crime statute includes penalty enhancements for crimes motivated by race, religion and ethnicity. The Commonwealth’s law is not as comprehensive as measures in Maryland or D.C. that also cover bias related to gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Federal hate-crime charges generally carry even harsher penalties than state statutes. Federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia have not opened an investigation at this point.

Beyond the tougher potential punishment, formally attaching the hate-crime label in court can signal to the broader community that certain heinous acts are different because of their intended impact.

“Such incidents send shock waves through the entire community and have the potential to make communities feel unsafe and vulnerable,” ADL’s Washington regional director Doron F. Ezickson said in a statement. “We must come together to send an opposing message that all people, regardless of their religious or ethnic background, are safe, welcome and protected.”

Ezickson said Tuesday his organization is monitoring the investigation and has “every confidence in law enforcement to determine what happened to Nabra and whether the circumstances of her death merit a hate crimes charge.”

Hooper, the CAIR spokesman, compared Nabra’s killing to a North Carolina case in which three Muslim college students were shot and killed in 2015. Police determined Craig Stephen Hicks’s motivation for killing the students in Chapel Hill was a parking dispute, but many Muslim groups thought it was a hate crime.

The FBI and the Department of Justice opened a probe to determine if the case was a hate crime. No federal charges have been filed.

Nabra’s father told detectives that he believes his daughter was killed because of her religion. “Why was he running behind the kids wearing Islamic clothes with a baseball stick? Why, when my daughter fell down, why did he hit her? For what?” Mohmoud Hassanen said.

“We don’t know this guy. He doesn’t know us. We don’t hate anybody because of religion or color. I teach my kids to love everybody.”



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When A Ramadan IHOP Ritual Leads To The Killing Of A Muslim American Teen


Rowaida Abdelaziz 


CLIFTON, N.J. ― At 3:30 a.m., most IHOPs and McDonald’s restaurants aren’t exactly hot spots for family dining ― except perhaps the ones near mosques during the month of Ramadan. Large groups of Muslim families and teenage friends often gather at such places for suhoor, or pre-dawn meal, before the long fasting day begins.

It’s a rite of passage, especially for young Muslims, to go out without parents to share a meal with friends. There’s a thrill to being out so late at night. Ramadan is a month of community, and most young people look forward to this ritual.  

“In Ramadan, when I’m with my friends, it’s just so cool to go out to eat or go get ice cream,” 15-year-old J’wel Kudeh from North Bergen, New Jersey, told HuffPost on a recent weeknight. “When food is accessible, it’s just more fun. It just lightens up the mood.”

J’wel was attending Ramadan prayers at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Clifton, a suburb just 15 miles from midtown Manhattan. She was waiting for a break in prayers so she could run to the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts with her friends. She wanted a breakfast sandwich.

“My mom knows that there is a purpose of my late-night eating,” she said. “But for any other night, there is no need to go out. Since it’s Ramadan, it’s more acceptable.”

J’wel’s friend, 15-year-old Faeza Zaiter, nodded. “For once, we’re all eating at the same time,” she said. “We’re all fasting, and we’re all up for most of the night.” On past occasions, the girls have eaten at Wendy’s, picked up Pizza Hut or gone to one of the more popular 24-hour restaurants for American Muslims: the International House of Pancakes, or IHOP.  

Early Sunday morning in Sterling, Virginia, 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen had just participated in the same ritual. Hassanen and her friends had eaten at an IHOP and were heading back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center when they were confronted by a man wielding a baseball bat.

The teens fled. Hassanen’s mother had loaned her an abaya ― a traditional long dress commonly worn by Muslim women ― and she reportedly tripped on it as the attacker approached. She became separated from the rest of the group. According to police, the assailant struck her with the bat and then took her away in his car. Hours later, her body was found in a nearby pond.

Fairfax police have arrested and charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with murder. Details of the incident are still unclear, as the investigation is ongoing. Police said in a statement Monday that they are not treating the incident as a hate crime, calling it more likely a case of “road rage.” 

When news broke of what happened to Hassanen, the Muslim community was horrified. In particular, many young Muslims were shocked to learn that a joyous and familiar ritual had given way to a brutal killing.

Salma Khan, a 32-year-old Muslim American who works in education reform in Philadelphia, said she couldn’t shake a nagging sense of deja vu. She recalled taking trips with friends to the 7-Eleven convenience store next to her mosque after prayers during Ramadan.

“Me at 16, 17 years old, that’s what you would do,” Khan told HuffPost on Monday. “It starts at the mosque during Ramadan, then you run to the 24-hour Starbucks or McDonald’s.”

After the news of Hassanen’s death, Khan and her group of friends were texting all night, devastated and horrified, she said. They all felt that it could have been them.

“This was me. This was me in my youth,” Khan said. “You go to IHOP. You’re hanging out with friends. Except the stark contrast that today you can end up dead. That is scary.”

She’s worried about her nephews and nieces who have also picked up the Ramadan post-prayer food tradition. She doesn’t want them going out by themselves that late anymore.

Khan’s nephew Farhaad, a rising senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, sees things a bit differently. He was saddened about Hassanen’s death, but he feels it was “a one-off incident.” He plans to keep going out for pre-dawn meals with his friends for the remainder of the holy month.

“It’s a chance to bond and create stronger friendships, especially in Ramadan,” Farhaad, 20, told HuffPost. “You really want to hang out with all your Muslim friends.”

J’wel, the teen from New Jersey, agreed. Hassanen’s death was “a wake-up call, because it is definitely scary to see something like that,” she said. “It makes me realize that not everything is as safe as it looks.”

But she still wants to participate in the nightly adventures, even if it means having a chaperone for the rest of Ramadan.

“I don’t think people will stop going for suhoor,” said Faeza, her friend. “These things will happen. Even if we don’t go out, that won’t stop the hate or it won’t stop the crimes.”

All three young Muslims acknowledged that they’ll need to be vigilant and careful of their surroundings. Farhaad Khan’s mother is already asking him to minimize his late-night excursions for his safety, he said. 

“It’s something that we do as young Muslims all the time. It’s such a common thing to go out for suhoor, especially after night prayers,” he said. “Our parents are just very protective.”

Rabia Chaudry is one such parent. A Maryland attorney and mother of three ― including a 20-year-old daughter who likes to grab a late meal with friends at various 24-hour restaurants during Ramadan ― Chaudry says she is worried for her children.

It’s become a ritual, and it’s become something young people look forward to,” she told HuffPost.

On Sunday night, she wrote on Twitter that she will no longer let her daughter go out to eat the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan. But she hates the idea of giving in to fear, she told HuffPost, and she realizes her daughter is an adult who can make her own decisions. Chaudry asked her daughter to come home immediately after prayers and not go out for a meal afterward for the rest of Ramadan. Her daughter agreed, Chaudry said, without hesitation, understanding her mother’s concern.  

As the Muslim community tries to process Hassanen’s death, the ADAMS Center in Sterling “will continue to follow the investigation to ensure justice is upheld to the maximum extent of the law,” it said in a statement.

“The wound is still very fresh,” Joshua Salaam, the chaplain at ADAMS, told HuffPost. “We’re still in shock. We’re still devastated. Our hearts are broken and we’re still trying to figure out how to move forward.”

A vigil for Hassanen is scheduled for Wednesday at the Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, Virginia.

An online campaign to support her family has raised over $250,000.




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  • 2 weeks later...






Lessons from Nabra Hassanen Murder


Salam Al- Marayati


The tragic killing of 17 year old Nabra Hassanen of Sterling, Virginia, has shaken the American Muslim community and the nation as a whole. An assailant abducted her, took her to a nearby area where authorities suspect he sexually assaulted her before killing her with a bat. Nabra was only a sophomore in high-school.

Following this horrific incident, wicked opportunism once again reared its ugly head. The 22 year-old man charged with the killing turned out to be an undocumented Salvadoran national, a fact that has changed the tenor of the conversation around the case. Overnight, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremists have gotten their wish. On June 18, arch conservative provocateur Ann Coulter tweeted: “@AnnCoulter: When a ‘Dreamer’ murders a Muslim, does the media report it?”

To right-wing extremists, the blood of this tragedy was used to stain all undocumented immigrants as criminals. They would seek to divide Muslim and Latino immigrants by pitting one group against the other — creating fear in both communities.


American Muslims are all too familiar with these fear tactics. Our current President uses domestic and foreign terror attacks to vilify Muslims and garner support for his travel ban. As a candidate Trump proposed a Muslim registry, and as President he is creating an office and database to track crimes committed by immigrants. The Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) serves no real law enforcement purpose, but rather, it is a vehicle to shame immigrant communities and create fear in the American public of “the other.”. In reality, immigrants are less likely to commit crimesthan native-born Americans. White nationalists have perpetrated 73% of domestic terror attacks since 9/11, though these facts do not always seem to make their way into the public discourse or the President’s tweets.

Muslim Americans and the Latino community share similar burdens in this country. Stereotyping, prejudice, and collective guilt is used to generalize individual actions as group norms. This is not true in the reverse. When a white-nationalist attacks a church in Charleston he has “mental health issues.” This double standard insulates the “white community” from institutional racism. Not only is this unfair, it’s un-American.

Evil people commit evil acts regardless of race, religion, or immigration status. American Muslims should oppose efforts to exploit the murder of this young girl to further any political agenda. The tragedy here is not some talking point in a larger partisan battle, it is the loss of an innocent life. As the Bible says in Exodus 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill,” the Holy Quran (5:32) says, “whoever kills one person-...it is as if he had slain all mankind.”

From two different books we all pray to a God of love and mercy who values human life above all others. As we reaffirm the our faith during Ramadan, let us also reaffirm our bond with one another. Nabra could have been anyone’s daughter, so she is all of our daughter. We cannot allow her murder be used to erase our common humanity.



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Latinos Must Dismantle the Islamophobia that Fueled Nabra Hassanen's Murder

By Sandra De Anda

Had anyone asked me a decade ago, I could've never imagined that I’d be sharing iftar with tacos as a member of Orange County Immigrant Youth United at an OC mosque. Back then, I attended a mostly Latinx middle school, where many students, including my friends, made fun of the few Southeast Asian kids who wore the hijab. At recess, my schoolmates would call hijabis "Bin Laden" or "Taliban." We grew up under two Dubya terms that conflated our peers with terrorists. The church I attended shunned Islam. The media ran videos of Osama Bin Laden on the news constantly. Even with some skepticism, we embraced these notions because we were collectively misinformed. This came at the cost of the safety of our peers, stifling our ability to build bridges with other religions and cultures. It wasn’t until we grew up that we finally realized we were wrong. But Islamophobia still remains in our communities.

This has proven dangerous time and time again, especially with the case of Nabra Hassanen in Sterling, Virgina.

Hassanen was described by her father as being a nice girl who loved fashion and music. Darwin Martinez Torres, an undocumented Latino immigrant, failed to see any value in her life when police say he clubbed her with a baseball bat. The police are calling it a case of road rage and not a hate crime. Hassanen's father, an immigrant from Egypt, doesn't believe that to be true. This resonated greatly with a lot of us in the Latino community who agree with him. You don’t have to be white to commit a hate crime and you don’t have to be white to hate, after all.

Just take the case of the Brodie Durazo who vandalized a truck belonging to a Sikh temple in Buena Park, believing it was a mosque. He spray painted "**** ISIS" in response to the San Bernardino Massacre in 2015. But this story has a happier ending with a contrite antagonist. Durazo apologized, saying that he could not “imagine the amount of stress or tension," he brought upon the temple with his actions. No hate crime accompanied his charges and Sikhs forgave him for his vandalism. This is one of the many examples of how hatred of any kind can be diminished through dialogue and familiarity with one another. This is how Latinx's should tackle Islamophobia.


Conservative media and the so-called  "Alt-Right" want to prevent these types of connections from being made. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed a detainer request for Hassanen's alleged murderer, something Islamophobes are rallying around. They’ve cynically used Hassanen’s death as an opportunity to push their anti-immigrant politics. They're in support of President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, ICE deportations, and even the removal of the DACA status. And had this situation been reversed where a Latinx was victimized by a Muslim perpetrator, these folks would use it to get people behind the Muslim travel ban. They'll take any person who's done wrong from either of our communities in order to vilify. But it isn't that easy. You can be an immigrant and Muslim. You can be a Latinx and an immigrant. You can also be a Latinx immigrant who is Muslim.

Latinx's and Muslims have been borrowing language and customs from each another for centuries. But at this moment, we are two groups that are especially vulnerable to the surge of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Martinez should be held accountable for his actions. At the same time, his crime doesn't speak for all undocumented people. We should continue fighting for immigrant rights. We should shun hatred and instead educate our communities. If we all want to remain safe and sane these next four years, we need to work together in making strong bonds with one another by sharing our cultures, our faiths, and even tacos, so we can become pillars of support for one another. The Latino Muslim Unity event, "Taco Trucks at Every Mosque," I attended succeeded in doing this. I shared immigrant experiences with my old friend, finally found out what "halal" means, and heard a Latina’s reasons for choosing the Islamic faith.

I'm glad to have shared tacos with my friend and the Muslim community. Still, there is much work to be done in dismantling Islamophobia within our Latinx communities. When we're intolerant, we aren't united. Though we still rely on media for versions of the truth, the personal is the most political tool we have now more than ever. Ramadan may be over for my new Muslim friends, but we can still continue the conversation over tacos (or kebabs) any time.


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