Police found what are believed to be the remains of a 17-year-old Muslim female who was abducted overnight after leaving her local mosque in Sterling, Virginia, near Washington, DC.
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling identified the missing girl as Nabra. Her last name is currently being withheld.
Local media reports that Nabra was a student who just finished her second year of high school.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event.” ADAMS said in a statement.
It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth.”
Nabra was last seen with a group of Muslim teens in the early hours of Sunday after having a meal at a local 24-hour restaurant near the mosque, where she attended prayers for Ramadan, a 30-day long holiday during which Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, according to reports from ADAMS and local police.
The group was confronted by a motorist. All others in the group managed to flee.
Police arrested and charged Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, with her murder on Sunday evening.
At a press conference on Sunday, TJ Wright, Fairfax county police public information officer, said there “doesn’t seem to be any indication” that the murder was a hate crime, but more information would come out as the investigation proceeds.
Surge in hate crimes
Anti-Muslim hate crimes have surged in recent years.
According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR), an Islamic civil rights organisation, released in May, there was a “57 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents” from 2015 to 2016.
“This was accompanied by a 44 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same period,” the report found.
President Donald Trump‘s campaign rhetoric and moves to institute a “Muslim ban”, or halt to immigration from six predominately Muslim nations, has attributed to this rise, critics say.
The community has rallied to support Sterling’s Islamic community during its time of need.
Two separate fundraisers – one through GoFundMe, another with Muslim crowdsourcing page LaunchGood - started after news broke of Nabra’s murder have raised over $50,000.
“May Nabra rest in peace. Your community cries for you,” Giovani Quinones, a donour to her family, commented on the GoFundMe page.
A community-wide reading of the Quran is also being organised to honour Nabra’s memory.
ADAMS concluded its statement by thanking their “community, government officials and interfaith partners for their prayers and support during these tough times”.