All over the United States, especially Chapel Hill, North Carolina there is mourning today following a horrific shooting. This is due to family, friends, loved ones and students having bury the following individuals:
Yusor Mohammad AbuSalha, 21; husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23 and sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Mr. Barakat was in year two at the University of North Carolina’s Dentistry Graduate School. Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha would have been enrolling in the same graduate school in the fall. Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was an undergraduate student studying architecture and had recently won an artistic talent award. These were Muslim students well-known in their community. All these people gathered to morn together on Chapel Hill, the three Muslim students that were shot Tuesday evening over what apparently seems to be a parking space.
Wednesday night there was anger, confusion, fear, hate, but there was also solidarity as the UNC students, friends, relatives and even strangers packed the central campus, ‘Pit’. There were candles and there were signs that said, “End Islamophobia”. It has been slated by many that this was a hate crime against the Muslim community in this diverse area of central North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Due to these thoughts among the community, 28-year-old, Christine Donovan, had propagated a petition stating, “We the residents of this community believe in religious and social pluralism.” Over 2,000 people were in attendance at the vigil of the three Muslims that were shot on Chapel Hill.
Today though, the students of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the surrounding towns have heavy hearts. Many spoke and told stories that encouraged laughter over the fun times as well as tears over their losses. Those who spoke said this family was “marked by academic brilliance, caring, had a love of sports, travel, and architecture.” A slide-show ran behind them showing fun vacation shots, celebrations and the wedding of Mr. Barakat and Ms. Abu-Salha. The father of the two girls and father-in-law to Deah Shaddy Barakat who were shot, Mohammad Abu-Salha, did not morn, he had still in shock. He says, at night, when he is alone he may be able to release his sorrow.
Craig Stephen Hicks 46, turned himself in after the shooting the three Muslims at Chapel Hill. He has been charged with murder. Craig has no prior record and is being cooperative with police. He had previously engaged in several disputes with the family over parking. Parking is limited and there is little parking on the side that Mr. Barakat and his family lived. They often parked over on Mr. Hicks’ side where there is more room. He was told he was cleared to park there and if there were anymore issues to call the Chapel Hill police. However, due to many believing this may have been a hate crime, as a safety measure, Craig has been transferred from the county detention center in Durham to a state prison in Raleigh.
Craig apparently was against all religions not just Muslims. His Facebook posts supported atheism, and was negative towards Christian conservatives. Last month, he posted a photograph saying that there is no point to pray. The post continued, saying prayer was narcissistic, arrogant and lazy. He claimed God to be imaginary.
Craig’s wife, Karen claims that Craig is not a bigot. Karen believes, without a doubt that the shooting was not about religion but the ongoing parking issue. She says Craig would not have shot the three neighbors because they were Muslim.
Mr. Barakat had wanted to go on a trip to meet the dental needs of the Syrian refugees in Turkey. Mr. Barakat had been $20,000 shy of raising the money he had needed to go to Syria. Donations have been given to support the dental needs of Syrian refugees and as of Thursday morning the total was over $200,000. Those who would like to donate to this cause following the Chapel Hill shooting are invited to go to the following link: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/syrian-dental-relief/206249<
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of: Mrehan – License
Photo courtesy of: TheCleopatra – License