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.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”