Some see Chapel Hill shooting as a hate crime

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Some see Chapel Hill shooting as a hate crime

People mourn the death of three Muslim students following a vigil  at the University of North Carolina.

People mourn the death of three Muslim students following a vigil at the University of North Carolina.

Voice of America [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

People mourn the death of three Muslim students following a vigil at the University of North Carolina.

Voice of America [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Voice of America [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

People mourn the death of three Muslim students following a vigil at the University of North Carolina.

Sarah Schisla, Scot Scoop Editor-in-Chief

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On Tuesday, February 10, three young Muslim students were murdered in Chapel Hill, N.C. over what police have characterized as a “neighborhood parking dispute.” However, many are calling for the shooting to be investigated as a hate crime.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and Yusor’s sister Razan, 19, were killed inside their home execution-style, each with a close-range shot to the back of the head.

The victims were college students who frequently volunteered in the community. The shooter was Craig Stephen Hicks, a white male and an atheist who regularly ridiculed religion of any kind on his Facebook page.

In January, Hicks posted a photo that read, “Praying is pointless, useless, narcissistic, arrogant, and lazy; just like the imaginary god you pray to.”

Despite the fact that Hicks openly criticized religion, and that the three victims were practicing Muslims of Arab descent (both women wore the hijab), police had already released a statement the morning after the killing that officially cited the parking dispute as the motive for the shooting.

Namee Barakat, the father of the male victim, said, “We all all know it’s about more than that, unfortunately.”

Namee’s daughter, Suzanne, said, “To call it a parking dispute […] is to trivialize their murders.” She later asked that “the authorities investigate these senseless and heinous murders as a hate crime.”

The shooter’s wife, Karen Hicks, said that her husband believed in equality. She cited his support for gay rights and abortion rights.

She said, “I can say with absolute belief that this incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith, but it was related to a longstanding parking dispute that my husband had with the neighbors.”

Carlmont sophomore Elsa Carreras believes that the shooting was a hate crime.

“There is no doubt this man had a very hate-filled mind toward most people who practiced religion. He had Facebook posts saying things like, ‘I wish [fighting religions] would exterminate each other.’ Defending this man’s actions by saying that he did other good things is unbelievable,” she said.

Compared to other news stories, the Chapel Hill shooting has received little coverage.

Carreras said, “I believe this has to do with the fact that the victims were not white, and the media doesn’t want to admit that there is still racism and hate toward Muslims. Things like this have been happening too often. There’s so much hate and it needs to stop being excused and stop being ignored.”

If the shooting was in fact motivated by something other than a parking dispute, it will be very difficult to prove.

Craig Hicks had a verifiable history with the victims and the parking spot in question.

He had called the towing company without just cause so often that workers were told not to respond to his calls. On multiple occasions, he had shown up at the victims’ doorstep with his firearm tucked into his waistband and “flashed” the gun at them by lifting his shirt.

In response to the question, “Why does it even matter if this is a hate crime?” The Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore said, “Muslims in America are starting to feel targeted, and if the government says that [the Chapel Hill shooting] is a hate crime, maybe people will start to listen.”

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