INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dozens of people attended a vigil Thursday evening in Indianapolis to mourn the death of a Muslim teen who was murdered over the weekend in Virginia.
Authorities said 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was attacked while walking back to a mosque with a group of friends.
The message at the vigil was all about peace, love and kindness. People of different faiths came together to pray and heal from what they’re calling a horrific crime.
Some people told 24-Hour News 8 what happened in Virginia could have happened right here in Indianapolis.
More than 50 people attended a candlelight vigil at the Indiana Interchurch Center.
“Almost exactly 50 years ago, that building was established to bring together people of different faiths to work together to solve problems,” said John Clark, with the Indiana Interchurch Center.
“This is a horrible time for us to have to do that,” Clark continued.
Many came with heavy hearts after the murder of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen.
“I may not have known her physically, but I know her in the spirit more than anything,” said one woman, who spoke during reflection. “I know her mother’s heart in my spirit.”
Authorities said the Muslim teen was attacked with a baseball bat as she was walking back to the mosque with a group of friends. They believe it may have started as a road rage incident when the suspect got into an argument with someone from that group. At one point, authorities said the suspect tried running them over before getting out of the car with his bat.
“I could have easily been her. I was at my mosque in Carmel. I was out at one o’clock just sitting outside the mosque steps with my friends, and we were talking,” said Maham Nadeem, a student at Butler University. “That could have been easily anyone I know; that could have easily been me, so that’s where the fear comes from. It’s not just someone who died in Virginia. Virginia could easily be Indiana, and she could easily be me.”
While authorities said it appears the attack was not a hate crime, what happened in Virginia is raising a lot of concerns about safety for some people in the Muslim community.
“We don’t know if this particular incident was a hate crime, but we have seen a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes elsewhere,” said Faryal Khatri, who is part of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.
Khatri said she hopes people can come together to keep these crimes from happening.
“I think today is about praying and crying and grieving, but tomorrow we’ll wipe the tears away and work to build a nation that’s safe for everybody,” she said.
Authorities said nothing indicates that this crime was motivated by race or by religion, but the victim’s family believes it was a hate crime.
Prosecutors charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with murder.