Why We Need to Talk About the Chapel Hill Shooting

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Source: Dailyprincetonian.com

By Zeena Mubarak

Last Tuesday, a gunman entered a private residence and shot and killed three students of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Their names were Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. All three of the victims were Muslims, the two girls visibly so, because they chose to wear hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering.

The religion of the victims is important to note, because it explains the comparative lack of coverage of their deaths. It is also being speculated that the killer’s motive was hatred for Islam, and that these murders were in fact a hate crime.

The killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, posted several long anti-religious posts on his Facebook before the attacks, including many emphasizing the role he felt Islam played in the 9/11 attacks. With these facts in mind, it is not unreasonable to think that the victims’ religion may have played a role in their murder.

Right now, the police are investigating the possibility that a parking lot dispute led to the attacks. It is hard to believe that this could be all there is to it; the victims were shot execution-style within their own home.

However, even if we accept, for argument’s sake, that the trigger for the attack was a parking lot dispute, we still have to ask the important question of what made Hicks feel as though he could kill three people over such a dispute. Actions don’t exist in a cultural vacuum. We live in a world where a hashtag like #KillAllMuslims can exist in a mainstream forum and be an accepted part of the general discourse. We live in a world where a president can be insulted by being accused of being Muslim. We live in a world where a movie like American Sniper, which glorifies the killing of Muslims, can break box office records. All of these facts mean something. Muslims are seen as outsiders, and dangerous ones at that. If you are socialized into believing all Muslims are inherently violent, then it becomes very easy to just pick up a gun and shoot one.

But why am I writing this here, in the pages of The Daily Princetonian? I want to start a campus conversation about this. I see the memories of these victims slowly sliding away, and, as a Muslim, that terrifies me. It isn’t usually productive to think in hypotheticals, but I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would have been had the situation been reversed: had the gunman been Muslim and the victims not. I believe their pictures would have been plastered all over every news outlet, international, national and local. The victims’ names would have been on everyone’s tongues. The words “parking lot dispute” would certainly not have been brought up in conjunction with the killer — only the Muslim affiliation. But because this situation doesn’t fit neatly into the media’s preferred stereotypes, Barakat and the Abu-Salha sisters are being slowly erased.

I want you, the average Princeton student, to be thinking about them and talking about them. I want you to imagine what it would be like to have a man who hates you based on your identity come into your home and press a gun to your forehead. I want you to think about the agony your parents, siblings and loved ones would go through when they heard the news.

I want you to get mad.

Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was 19 when she died. She had a bright future ahead of her, and it was ripped from her hands. I want you to feel the injustice of that tragedy burn in your soul.

It is absolutely imperative that we mourn our fellow American college students. Because the same attitude that is making it so easy to forget them is likely the same attitude that caused their deaths in the first place: the lack of value placed on Muslim lives.

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7 thoughts on “Why We Need to Talk About the Chapel Hill Shooting

  1. Very well written! The same thing happened here in Vancouver, Canada and it wasn’t plastered all over the news. A lot of people didn’t hear about it. Social media played a big role for all the people who heard about all these shootings. We should not sit back and watch this happened to us, all lives are important and should be valued. Race, religions and beleifs should not play a role in deciding whether or not a persons life is important. Allah SWT gives lives and only he has to the power to take it. He’s our only judge and the one who will punish us according to our deeds. May these three innocent victims be granted Jannatul Firdous, Aameen.


  3. Chapel Hill was a terrorist attack by a Atheist against Muslims, this parking dispute is just a bullshit cover up. And while the Chapel Hill police have claimed that the triple homicide of these young Muslims was the result of a parking dispute, the friends and family of the victims claim that their deaths were the latest gruesome manifestation of Islamophobia – and it comes on the heels of close-by Duke University reversing a plan to have the MuslimVillage.com​ call to prayer being recited from the historic chapel after coming under pressure from Christian groups. A poll by the Pew Research Group showed that Muslims are the most disliked religious group in America.

    The West has never been at ease with Islam since the Crusades. It is unfortunate that huge oil supplies lie under the Arabian Deserts. It is the West that stirred the trouble that led to 9/11. That attack was a desperate act of by men prepared to lose their life. We need to get to grips on who is the terrorist? On 24 November 1963, Lyndon Johnson said, “the battle against communism… must be joined… with strength and determination. Some three million lives were lost in the consequential battles. The US had to pull out due to Public Opinion. Communism lived on. So who was the terrorist?

    The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.

    Terrorism and sexual grooming is nothing to do with Masajid, Imams and Muslim schools. Those Muslim youths who have been involved in terrorism and sexual grooming are the product of western education system which makes a man stupid, selfish and corrupt. They find themselves cut off from their cultural heritage, literature and poetry. They suffer from identity crises and I blame British schooling.

    Terrorism, the use of violence against civilians is not new and it is not unique to Islamic extremists. Though we are hyper-aware of this threat from groups that view themselves as the only true Muslims, let us not forget that assaults on civilians have been used widely throughout human existence and was a widespread occurrence in the last century. Dresden, The Holocaust, Biafra, Rwanda, Cambodia, Oklahoma City… None of these had anything to do with Islam. The problem is not that Islam harbours fanatics, that Europeans allow Muslim immigrants to dwell in impoverished ghettos, or that the Western Nations support despots to ensure access to the oil of the Middle East, though all are true. The problem is that people, and states, are all too willing to use violence to advance their own self-interest. Until we eschew violence, it will always be a weapon easily adopted by the least among us to strike at the privileged.

    Charlie Hebdo is a disgusting, racist and bigoted satirical publication that has been inviting such a tragedy for many years. What is the point of humour at the expense of others beliefs? The reason we’re not allowed to depict our Prophet graphically is through his own instruction. He did not want to be “idolized” in any way. He even said himself “i am just a man”. These terrorists have done the exact opposite – they have idolized him by claiming a false “vengeance”. Still, i despise Charlie Hebdo. They were asking for it knowing full well the state of extremism in the world today. Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, it has to do with societal problems. That makes sense. That is why we see so many non-Muslim, poor Latin Americans, Africans and Indians resorting to terrorism as a means to vent their anger, right?

    In Islam there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time there were several instances of ridicule, however the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam.

  4. I was just talking about how ignorant people can be towards Islam and I feel that we are all a victim. You don’t know if your life will be taken just because you wear a hijab or kufi. It’s sad to know that people sit in front of the tell lie vision (TV) and listen to what these payed liars have to say and believe them. I just wish that the people who don’t know about islam pick up the Quran and read it instead of being ignorant. I’m a revert and I love this religion it is a religion of piece and to hear so many muslims are being killed because they worship Allah and believe in the prophet PBUH is his messenger it sickens me. 911 dosent speak for all Muslims these people need to wake up.

  5. Thank you for sharing beautiful messages to all of us which is every one need to be alert, it could happen any time any where need to be support each other closely and fire up for unjustice media so on!!

  6. What is more important to me is the manner the funeral prayer was conducted. There was a video clip I do not understand.
    The Muslims in the West and in Europe should better understand the essence of saving one’s life. Let them reflect on the Qur’an 2:195.

  7. Asalamuu Alaikum,

    The shooting of these three Muslims are indeed a travesty. I couldn’t agree more that if not for their religion perhaps this senseless murder would not have occurred. I have to also blame the American powers to be that continues to help perpetuate this hate. It is mind boggling to turn on the news to have news casters speculate on the innocence of an alleged crime of a Muslim. It’s without question our media uses subliminal messages designed to desensitize the masses into believing that all Muslims are dangerous and to be feared.

    What about the white bomber ( Mcvey) I believe. Is all white people dangerous. They make up a large population of serial killers in this country. Should we fear them. Again, I say I blame the media, it’s by design by the American government to see to it that Muslims, and minorities are discriminated against in this country and globally. It is a sad day indeed. May Allah SWT have mercy on them. Ameen. Thank you for this article.

    Mariam Bey

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