Chapel Hill Shooting Mar 05, 2015

A brutal attack near a UNC campus brings hate-crimes against Muslims to the forefront just over a month after the Charlie Hebdo attack.

On February 10, 2015, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, as well as his wife of only six weeks Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and his sister-in-law Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead by their neighbour, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks.

After the attack, Hicks voluntarily handed himself over to police, and later said that the three counts of first-degree murder were the result of a parking dispute, though Chapel Hill police Chief Chris Blue stated that, “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," in an e-mail.

Various friends and family of the victims have said that this isn’t the first time their neighbour has made hostile contact with them. Mohammad Abu-Salha, father of Yusor and Razan, spoke with the Charlotte Observer about the motive behind the attack, saying that, “[The attack] was execution style, a bullet in every head. This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime.”

In another interview, with the North Carolina News and Observer, the father of the deceased said that Hicks had "picked on" his daughter and her husband "a couple times before," and that "They were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far."

The three young UNC students were all Muslim, and the two sisters wore hijabs, a head covering typical of the Muslim religion. These facts all conflict with Hicks’ very open Atheist views, which he was particularly vocal about on Facebook. Many believe his Atheist views to be a contributing factor in his decision to attack the three in their apartment. 

A previously divorced wife of Hicks, Cynthia Hurley, said that one of his favourite movies was “Falling Down,” a movie about a man going on a shooting rampage, causing a massacre. "He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all," she said.

After the attack, several vigils were held all over the country, with thousands taking part in the mourning following the brutal attack.

By: Amod Kala

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