For Sister Nabra and All the Rest: Violence Occurs In the Silence


Praying outside the Finsbury Park mosque after the attack. The imam prevented the crowd from hurting the assailant. Photo by AFP/Getty

Two more Islamophobic travesties unconscionably abetted, then blithely ignored by the fear-mongering, hate-peddling  Clown-in-Chief. On Sunday, in London's multi-ethnic Finsbury Park, a white guy drove a van into a dozen Ramadan worshipers outside their mosque, killing one and injuring the rest; he proclaimed he "just wanted to kill more Muslims" and has been arrested for what U.K officials eventually deemed, "terror offenses." The vile silence from the White House, like that greeting other acts of violence against brown-skinned victims, was  widely viewed as "deafening," especially since it came amidst the usual angry blathering about himself.

The same night in Sterling, Virginia, Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year-old-Muslim girl, was returning with friends to Ramadan prayers at Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center after a late-night meal at IHOP when she was accosted by a young white man. The other girls managed to flee; Hassanen was evidently kidnapped, beaten to death with a metal baseball bat, and dumped in a pond. Police found her body several hours later, and arrested Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, for her murder. The response from Hassanen's community has been generous, peaceful, heartfelt: Supporters have raised over $170,000 for Nabra's family, the mosque is undertaking Qur'an readings for Nabra's soul, and a spokesman has declared, "It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth."

But in a country marked since its inception by political violence - except against white men playing baseball - the response or lack of same to these atrocities has been as disturbing as the crimes. Many were enraged by Trump's silence in the face of the "wrong" color victim: In response to his mindless, beside-the-point Tweets, @OhNoSheTwitnt wrote, "I think you meant to type, 'My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Nabra Hassanen who was beaten to death for being Muslim,'" and others charged he had "blood on his hands." On behalf of Muslims feeling under siege by the ugly political climate and administration, the outrage grew when Fairfax police inexplicably announced that, at least for now, Nabra's murder was not being treated as a hate crime, suggesting to many that racist violence has become business as usual. Under the hashtags , an appalled state rep "Is this the America you want?"

Both here and in the U.K., anger was likewise aimed at the language of a culture with clear double standards. Even as mosque representatives and others "An attack on one faith is an attack on all," many also insisted on calling the attacks on Nabra and at Finsbury Park what they were - terrorism - citing the racist canard that a black guy who commits a crime is a "thug" and a brown guy a "terrorist," but a white guy is a "loner," sometimes mentally ill, invariably taken alive.

Critics also said we must demand accountability of an increasingly racist climate - see Trump - ask who radicalized right-wingers committing terrorist acts, and reject hateful rhetoric. Among those calling out the "hate preachers" was Brendan Cox, widower of M.P. Jo Cox, who In an odd synchronicity was murdered exactly a year ago by a right-wing extremist. This weekend, her former constituents held a to honor her persistent belief that, "We have more than that which divides us." It included the release of a powerful spoken word video on

to define it/ because the prejudice is born of a hateful climate...Violence occurs in the silence at first/Then after a while you can find it in words."

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