Muslim teen killed after leaving Virginia mosque

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17-year-old victim Nabra Hassanen. (Twitter)
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This police booking photo obtained June 19, 2017 courtesy of the Fairfax Co Police, shows Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, charged with murdering 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen in Sterling, Virginia. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2017
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Muslim teen killed after leaving Virginia mosque

WASHINGTON: A tight-knit Muslim community in the suburbs of Washington was in shock Monday after a 17-year-old girl was apparently beaten to death and dumped in a pond following late-night prayers at the local mosque.
Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, have charged a 22-year-old local man, Darwin Martinez Torres, with the teenager’s killing, and said on Twitter they were “NOT investigating this murder as a hate crime.”
But social media lit up with expressions of anger over the crime, which follows a series of deadly incidents targeting Muslims in North America, and condolence over the sudden, seemingly random death of a young girl.
While the teen has yet to be officially named by police, friends and worshippers at the mosque in Sterling, known as the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, identified her as Nabra Hassanen, from the nearby town of Reston.
The attack occurred in the early hours of Sunday as a group of young Muslims were walking back from the town center plaza after midnight prayers at the mosque, according to accounts by police and worshippers.
“A man who appeared to be drunk got out of his car with a bat,” one of the youths, Tasneem Khan, wrote on social media.
All of the youths with the exception of Hassanen managed to run back to the mosque upon seeing the assailant.
Arsalan Iftikhar, an international human rights lawyer and commentator who attended the prayer service, said the teen was “apparently beaten to death by this man.”
Fairfax County police spokesman Don Gotthardt told AFP the assault is not being treated as a hate crime at this stage because “there is no information connecting the victim’s faith or religion to the crime.”
Still, on Twitter, many people expressed incredulity.
“Anyone want to explain to me why this isn’t being investigated as a hate crime? I am disgusted and so very saddened by this,” wrote someone with the handle @MaisieRae.
“We need strong leaders in this country condemning hate crimes or we need new leaders who will,” added @paulshread.
A vigil for the slain girl has been scheduled for Wednesday evening in her home town of Reston.
The attack occurred during the waning days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. In North America, Ramadan is due to end with Eid Al-Fitr celebrations starting Saturday.
The teens had apparently gone out to eat at a restaurant before starting their fast at sunrise. Hassanen was reported missing around 4:00 am and the remains were found at a nearby pond around 3:00 pm.
Police would not immediately confirm the nature of the assault and the exact manner of her death, pending a review by the chief medical examiner.
A widely distributed Snapchat photographic montage showed Hassanen, who wore a Muslim veil, smiling and sporting a golden nose ring.
Last month, two men were fatally stabbed in Portland, Oregon as they intervened to stop a man hurling anti-Muslim slurs at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. Another man who tried to halt the attack was also wounded.
In Quebec, six worshippers were shot dead in an attack on a mosque in January.


Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

Empty seats of the United States delegation are pictured one day after the US announced their withdraw during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 June 2018
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Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal

GENEVA: Diplomats from across the globe defended the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday after the US withdrew from a body it branded an anti-Israel “cesspool.”
Slovenian ambassador Vojislav Suc, who currently holds the council’s rotating presidency and has been pushing a faltering reform drive, described the Geneva-based chamber as the best place to trigger action on dangerous rights crises.
“Let me say it very clearly, if human rights issues are not discussed here, in this very room, they have little chance to be dealt with meaningfully anywhere else,” he told the council’s 38th session, hours after Washington announced its pullout.
Suc further praised the 47-member council as the “only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide.”
Once he receives formal notification of the US withdrawal, Suc said he would arrange for the American seat to be removed and work with the General Assembly to elect a replacement member. China, which has on multiple occasions voiced support for multilateral institutions abandoned by US President Donald Trump, portrayed the council as “a major body... to promote the realization of human rights.”
“All delegations attach great importance to this body,” said Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yu Jianhua.
China currently sits on the council and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Beijing for seeking to stifle criticism of its own conduct.
The EU assured that it “remains steadfastly and reliably committed to the Human Rights Council,” and said it would continue to try to fix the body’s problems despite the US withdrawal.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision on Wednesday, making good on a threat Haley made in Geneva a year ago.
They said their calls for change, notably to fix “hypocrisy” and “unrelenting bias” against Israel were ignored.
Membership of the council, established in 2006 to replace the disgraced Human Rights Commission, has long been controversial.
Current members include Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela — all nations accused of massive abuses against civilians.
But the main US objection was the council’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel at each of the three annual sessions.
Israel is the only country recorded as a dedicated agenda item.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal, experts and diplomats have noted that without US pushback, resolutions approving investigations of Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could multiply.