Asian Americans Advancing Justice Warns of Divisive Tactics in Recent Attacks on Muslims

Group Disturbed by Attacks During Holy Month for Muslims
For Immediate Release
Contact
Michelle Boykins 202-296-2300, ext. 0144 mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org

Washington, D.C. — Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, is deeply disturbed over the latest attacks on Muslims and attempts to use the incidents to divide communities of color and further contribute to the criminalization of immigrants.

Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old, was murdered in Sterling, Virginia early Sunday morning after attending evening prayers at a local mosque. Her attacker beat her with a metal baseball bat. While questions remain about the motive for the attack on Hassanen, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued a detainer order for the man accused of her murder.

The news of Nabra Hassanen’s death is especially troubling light of the attack that took place in London this past weekend where a 48-year old white man plowed his vehicle into a crowd as attendees left a mosque. The attack took the life of one person and injured several others. The incident has been labeled an act of terror and a hate crime.

Both deadly incidents occurred during the holy month of Ramadan. These attacks contribute to the sense of heightened fear among Muslim and immigrant communities. Acts of violence based on race, religion, and intolerance must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

 Advancing Justice released the following the statement in response to these unfolding incidents:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured and killed in London, England and the teenager who lost her life this weekend in Northern Virginia. We lament all those who have lost their lives to needless violence.

While law enforcement in Virginia have not called the teen’s brutal murder a hate crime, we call on the police department to fully investigate this senseless loss of life, including whether anti-Muslim sentiment contributed to this tragedy. As we entered this week, we could not help but find eerie similarities between Nabra Hassanen’s death and the death of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was beaten with a baseball bat in Detroit, Michigan, 35 years ago on June 19, 1982.  A hate crime investigation in Hassanen's case is necessary in light of the history and the high number of recent hate incidents against Muslim Americans.

We unequivocally join the chorus of those calling for justice for Nabra, but dismiss the notion that an unconstitutional ICE detainer will bring the full measure of justice to the Hassanen family. We reject the use of the news of this ICE detainer as a wedge between Muslims, Asian Americans, Latinx communities, and undocumented immigrants.

To fall for this trap is to give in to the hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric that has ramped up over the past six months, while ignoring the parallels in the anti-Muslim sentiment that has created an atmosphere in which violence targeting Muslims has escalated in their holiest month. The path to justice is through unity, not division.”

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