On February 10th, 2015, three U.S.-born* people (two of which were university students and one graduate) were killed in their home at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They were a man, his wife and her sister. Killed in cold blood.
Oh, I should also mention that they were Muslim. Wait. No, I shouldn’t. I fucking shouldn’t have to mention that because yes, it may have been an important part of who they were to them or their family and friends and yes, it may have been their faith… but it makes them no different from anyone else.
The only reason I should have to mention their faith is if it was important to them, and because that is possibly the reason they were killed. (Many people believe this to have been a hate crime, and it was reported that the Police will investigate that.)
Deah Barakat’s sister, Suzanne, spoke out about the three in this interview for CNN.
It goes to say a lot that whenever any caucasian person, especially an American, is shot, that news is viral within hours. Maybe minutes. Tags are trending on Twitter and Facebook, news shows and websites are reporting round the clock. Yet this I did not hear about until almost two days afterwards, and only then through Tumblr. The tag #ChapelHillShooting then shortly trended for perhaps a day on Facebook and Twitter before being replaced (on Facebook in particular, by a lot of celebrity gossip).
When a caucasian person is killed, it is so often reported as being an entire race’s fault or an entire religion’s fault, yet when this kind of crime happens it is a “one off thing” or the person was “mentally unstable”. Hell, this time we were told it was “a parking dispute” – who kills three people over a parking space? (Which was in fact stated by building management to be a ‘guest space’ available for anyone to use). Why it happened may have been that, but at its core it was a despicable murder. Don’t try to make it seem less than it was/is.
Can we also draw a comparison between this and the Charlie Hebdo murders: both are awful tragedies and should not have happened, but look at the double standard. This is just one example…
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, handed himself in to the Police the evening of the 10th. It is reported by some news websites that his Facebook states he was a strict atheist and condemned all religions. Hicks’ wife has since released a statement saying she has filed for divorce (good for her) and her attorney released a statement that said “these victims were there at the wrong time at the wrong place”. But, as has been pointed out, these people were in their own home. Their home. So, is this implying that them being in that neighbourhood, or America, was the wrong place?
That opinion is not rare. Just browsing Twitter you will find thousands of remarks about this tragedy being ‘good’ or ‘dealing with’ this so-called ‘problem’. I will not share some of the comments here because they are, to be frank, very disturbing. But you can view some here. Whatever your opinion on immigration or any of that, you cannot deny there is so much general racism and Islamophobia around. Just like with the Mike Brown shootings, when so many other POC deaths came to light, this tragedy has shown that so many Muslim deaths have happened and gone unreported by major media. So many people spread hate on social media and so many people blame the entire religion and its entire following for crimes or tragedies that happen around the world. Newsflash: just because some crimes and organisations like ISIS say they are Muslims, doesn’t mean that anyone who identifies as a Muslim is. Just like not every Christian shares the same beliefs as Westboro Baptist Church and supports them. We have to learn to differentiate between a person and their religion.
This way of thinking is working on the basis that if one family member is mean, all of them are; it’s working on the way of thinking that because Hitler was German, all people from Germany are evil. You wouldn’t say any of those things, so why say and believe this? It is just as ridiculous.
This has got to stop. How many people have to fucking die before more people start to realise we are all equal? Your religion, your sexuality, your gender, your race — none of that dictates what kind of person you are, how happy you should be, what rights you deserve or where you should get to feel safe. It is the people who commit these crimes; the rapists, the homophobes, the racists and sexists and Islamaphobes (to name a few) that should be judged. Those are the kind of beliefs you should be judging, not which God someone chooses to believe in.
I don’t want my future children to grow up in a world where it’s normal to have hate crimes reported every other day. I don’t want future generations to grow up thinking it’s okay to discriminate against people for what they believe. Because it is not okay. My thoughts go out to the families and friends affected by this crime, and to all the other victims who have gone unnoticed by the world. It is not fair and I hope one day this kind of post will not be necessary.
If you want to raise awareness of this hate crime, you can post of Twitter with the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting or #MuslimLivesMatter or even share this post.
*it is important to note that Baraket was Syrian American, and the Abu-Salha sisters were Palestinian American. I did not miss this out to cause offence or because I think it is unimportant, but simply for effect/impact of that first statement.
I hope this post is okay and not able to be interpreted as offensive in any way. With events like this I always want to make a post to raise awareness, collect sources and share my opinion, but when on such sensitive topics (that I am often unknowledgeable about before the post) it is difficult. I hope this post comes across as I meant it. I mean the best.