Wednesday night at 9:15pm, police officers responded to an emergency call about reports of an assault in Jamaica Hills, when they found the body of Nazma Khanam a few feet from her home on Normal Road.
Khanam was bleeding with a stab to her torso. She was quickly taken to Jamaica Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The suspect is still unidentified. No motive has yet been declared for the killing and the possibility of a hate crime has not been ruled out.
The NY Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced in a press release that it requested the NYPD to investigate the killing as a possible hate crime, citing that Khanam was wearing Islamic attire at the time of the stabbing.
The CAIR-NY Executive Director, Afaf Nasher, issued a statement in the press release, proclaiming, “Because of the recent killings of Muslims in Queens, and because of the growing number of anti-Muslim incidents nationwide resulting from the increasing Islamophobia in American society, we urge the NYPD to investigate a possible bias motive for this murder.”
Linda Sarsour, a prominent Muslim Palestinian-American activist based in Brooklyn, wrote on her Facebook page about the death of Khanam, “I don’t have all the answers but will say be aware, stay alert, don’t walk alone especially if you wear hijab or are visibly Muslim. This is not about fear, this is reality.”
In a tweet, the NYPD Muslim Officers Society said that Khanam was the aunt of an NYPD transit officer, writing, “Very sad to announce the death of the aunt of our member PO Kabir. Let’s catch the perp.”
Mainstream media outlets have used Khanam’s relation to a NYPD transit officer as a main source of identification, deliberately omitting her Muslim identity from headlines.
This tragic incident is one of several hateful crimes recently committed in an increasingly Islamophobic and xenophobic political climate that has normalized bigotry.
It comes at the heels of a recent attack on a Queens imam and his companion, who were both fatally shot in the head after praying in a Queens mosque.
Khalid Latif, University Chaplain at NYU, announced that funeral prayers for Khanam will be held tomorrow at 2pm at Jamaica Muslim Center.