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Mother seeks justice for her sons killed by Rebecca Grossman, finds solace in murder verdict as God’s will

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Nancy Iskander visited the graves of her two young sons shortly after a jury convicted Rebecca Grossman of murdering them. It marked the end of a painful chapter for Iskander, who had endured three years of agony since Grossman recklessly sped through a crosswalk in Westlake Village, striking her sons as she looked on in horror.

In a heartfelt tribute to her sons, Iskander wrote, “Someone was held accountable for your murder, sons. Sleep tight. Rest in peace.” This moment of closure came after the jury deliberated for just over a day before delivering a verdict that aligned with the prosecution’s argument that Grossman’s actions were reckless and impaired by alcohol and drugs.

A sign shows an image of Mark Iskander, 11, left, and his brother Jacob Iskander, 8.

A sign shows an image of Mark Iskander, 11, left, and his brother Jacob Iskander, 8.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

For Iskander, the verdict brought a mix of satisfaction and sorrow. She had stood firm in seeking justice for her boys, testifying in court and urging authorities to treat the case with seriousness.

Outside the courtroom, Iskander expressed her gratitude for the justice system, saying, “We have a justice system you can trust from our experience. It’s not a justice system where people get away with things just under the color of their skin or their wealth or anything. You commit a crime, you will be held accountable.”

Iskander recounted the tragic events of the day her sons, Mark and Jacob, were killed, highlighting the prosecution’s argument that Grossman was driving at an excessive speed and under the influence of alcohol. She vividly described the harrowing moment when she saw Grossman’s vehicle plow into her children, leaving her screaming for help.

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Grossman, now facing a lengthy prison sentence, was visibly emotional as the guilty verdict was delivered. Despite the closure the verdict brought, Iskander expressed empathy for Grossman’s family and emphasized that her focus remained on honoring the memory of her beloved sons.

Reflecting on Mark and Jacob, Iskander praised their virtues and the support they received from their community. She also acknowledged the ongoing struggle of her youngest son, Zachary, who continues to grapple with the loss of his brothers.

Iskander’s husband, Karim, expressed relief at the prospect of moving forward after years of waiting for justice. He commended the jury for their diligent assessment of the evidence and unwavering commitment to delivering a just verdict.

Supporters of Iskander family embrace outside Van Nuys courtroom after verdict

Iskander’s powerful testimony and unwavering pursuit of justice have left a lasting impact, epitomizing the love and dedication she holds for her children. As she navigates the complexities of grief and healing, Iskander finds solace in the support of her community and the strength of her family.

With the harrowing chapter of the trial behind her, Iskander looks toward the future with hope, honoring the memory of Mark and Jacob while seeking closure and a sense of peace after enduring unimaginable loss.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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