A number of women gathered to mourn the death of Nabra Hassanen, who was brutally beaten up with a baseball bat on Sunday.
Hassanen, 17, was attacked in Sterling, Virginia, about 30 miles west of Washington, after attending late-night prayers for Ramazan.
Her funeral was held in a suburban mosque in Virgina, which was packed by mourners, mainly black and brown Muslims.
Her friends and cousins requested for the wooden coffin to be placed into the women’s section of the mosque before being buried into a nearby cemetery so they could say their final goodbye.
“That could’ve been us, our sisters, our best friends,” said Dina Nour, a 24-year-old Ethiopian American who could relate to Hassanen’s death. “It’s hitting very close to home.”
Many women and activists are pushing the police to record this as a hate crime and are angered by how the police have downplayed the role of race and religion in such incidents. “What kind of America is this where a teenage girl can be brutalised on her way to the mosque with a group of friends?”, they asked.
There are also debates concerning the circumstances of Hassanen’s death, and to the extent to which this debate should focus on her background and skin color may have contributed to the attacker’s fury and intentions. Most accounts dictate that she was on her way to get something to eat before iftar.
“It seems like they’re sugar-coating it,” said Ajha, a 21-year-old student who. “The average person could have road rage, maybe you’d stick a finger out of the car window or something. But to come out of your car and do something so unspeakable? I think road rage is a completely unacceptable excuse.”
“We are targeted more than they are and no matter how hard they want to fight that, it’s true,” said Kalood Younis, who broke into tears several times when discussing her cousin. She and her family members believe that non-black Muslims often deny the extent to which black-Muslims are targeted. She also stated that it is hard for them to fit into the larger Muslim community because of their race.
“This is not about a political statement. This is a girl’s life,” added another cousin, Marafi Badr, who said Hassanen was the first friend she remembers. Hassanen’s father was given a moment to himself once she was buried; her mother had been too distraught to come. The crowd parted so that her sisters could add dirt.
Khadija Mehter, a 32-year-old Muslim of South Asian descent, planned to attend a big vigil after the funeral. This teenage girl, Mehter said, had lived the “horrific reality” of the many incidents Muslim girls and women face.
This article originally appeared on Buzzfeed