Three family members gunned down Chapel Hill, North Carolina
A recently married couple Deah Shaddy Barakat (23) and his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha (21) and Yousor’s sister Raza Mohammad Abu-Salha (19) were gunned down at an apartment block at Chapel Hill, North Carolina (US). Police responded to a report of gunshots at 5:11 p.m. local time and discovered all three had allegedly been shot in the head.
Word of the attack soon circulated on social media with tweeters asking why mainstream media was slow to cover. Debates ensued regarding whether the incident could be termed, “terrorism” though the word is almost defunct in the present climate largely depending who is defining and variable criteria used. Hasan Niazi tweeted, “when it happened in France it was terrorist attack. When it happened in North Carolina USA it is a murder?” A man called Nada’s tweet read, “hey major media giants, how about some coverage, eh? After all, they were American citizens. Doesn’t that matter?
A Facebook page “our three winners” dedicated to the young Muslims stated, “it sorrows us all to see what has happened here today. Please rely on each other and remember these beautiful souls in your happy thoughts. Their faith meant a lot to them, and it is in fact what helps us all feel at peace with the tragedy of their murder.”
The following tributes to the family were posted valuing their contribution to society,
Razan was recently recognized for her amazing artistic abilities by NC State University. She was wonderful!
Want to know what kind of life Deah lived? Watch this…
“Project Refugee Smiles”
Last summer his bride Yusor traveled to Kilis, Turkey to also assist in dental relief. She was admitted to the UNC School of Dentistry in December. She would have started in August.
Razan was instrumental in the making of this video. Her talent was vast and generous. Please watch until the end. It’s a positive message! Razan said it, “There is hope”.
“Optimism is a lost sunnah”
Wedding of Yusor (left) and Deah (right) image Ayesha Ahmad
Craig Stephen Hicks (46) also of Chapel Hill was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder after turning himself in without incident according to the Daily Mail. Hicks appeared interested in atheism according to his social media posts, the work of Thomas Paine (“The Age of Reason”), Richard Dawkins (“The God Delusion”) and Sam Harris (“The End of Faith”). He had contact with a site called “United Atheists of America” and posted an image of a revolver on a Facebook page.
American Athists issued the follow statement,
Cranford, NJ—The staff of American Atheists is saddened by the deaths of Yusor Mohammad, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat, who were killed on Wednesday, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We mourn with their families, their friends, and with everyone touched by this tragedy.
“American Atheists condemns violence in any form, including violence against people of faith,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “No person should be a victim of violence because of their religion. Anyone who would attack a person because of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, attacks the very foundation of freedom. We must work to understand one another as people and recognize that our differences are an important part of our shared humanity.”
AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.
Hicks in custody
Richard Dawkins (English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and writer) took to Twitter to condemn the killings tweeting “how could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?” Hicks, whose Facebook page says he is married and studied paralegal at Durham Technical Community College, made a post referring to Dawkins in 2012 (see below). There was also a new comment from Adheel Ahmed alleging Dawkins was “responsible for the radicalization of young, white, western men” (view screenshots)
Thoughts of Harris are contained in the following two quotes,
“The men who committed the atrocities of September 11th were certainly not “cowards” as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faith – perfect faith, as it turns out- and this, it must be finally be acknowledged is a terrible thing to be,” (Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
Sam Harris was also quoted as saying, “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.” If Hicks was inspired by Harris, it would indeed be a terrible thing, not least for 3 young Muslims.!
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.