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Chapel Hill shooting: Three American Muslims killed

Posted on: February 13, 2015

In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Chapel Hill shooting: Three American Muslims killed

Three American Muslims have been shot dead near the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill in the US.
The three were named by police as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19.

In a statement, police said they responded to a report of gunshots in the usually quiet area of Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill at 5.11pm local time on Tuesday. Upon arrival, officers found the three young individuals, who were pronounced dead at the scene.

Craig Stephen Hicks

Craig Stephen Hicks

A 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder. He was named by police as Craig Stephen Hicks who confirmed he had been charged.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23 his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were found dead at a condominium complex off campus.

Following the news of the deaths, there was an outpouring of grief and anger on social media, with some fears that the three were killed because they were Muslim.

Authorities at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, one of America’s top-ranked public universities, called for calm, urging students to wait for police to ascertain the facts of the killings before ascribing motive.

A US official later said that the shootings were “not part of a targeted campaign against Muslims in North Carolina”.

Chris Blue, chief of the Chapel Hill police said his department was investigating reports that the killing was motivated “by an ongoing neighbour dispute over parking”.

“Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act,” he added. “We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case.”

“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly,” said Mr Blue.

The hashtag, #MuslimLivesMatter, was trending on Twitter as well as #ChapelHillShooting worldwide, while the atheist Richard Dawkins condemned the killings.

The three actively used social media to share happy moments and according to Yusor’s Facebook, the couple had only married in December and shared photos of their day.

University of North Carolina confirmed Barakat was a second-year dental student and Yusor Abu-Salha was planning to begin dental studies herself at Chapel Hill in the autumn, according to university officials. The university confirmed they got married less than two months ago.

Barakat was a charitable individual and in his last Facebook post, he shared a picture saying: “Tonight we provided free dental supplies and food to over 75 homeless people in downtown Durham.” Barakat volunteered for the Miswak Foundation which provides free dentistry to impoverished countries.

He was also raising money to “provide dental care to refugee students in Rihaniya, Turkey”. Since his death, several thousands of pounds have been donated.

In December, he described his parents as the “greatest” on Facebook and on Twitter shared his thoughts on people’s reaction to the crises in the Middle East. Barakat’s brother Farris mourned the three deaths in a social media post. “I haven’t even begun to fully comprehend what has happened. But I know for sure those three together have done so much we are all proud of.

“No reason to stop being proud now,” he wrote. “God is great. God is greater.”

The Council on American Islamic Relations issued a statement on the killings calling for an investigation into a possible religious motivation.

“Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” said Nihad Awad, the group’s executive director.

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