Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chapel Hill Shooting

ARAB AMERICAN MEDIA (Editorial Staff) - It took the mainstream media an entire day to report on a possible hate crime that claimed the lives of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh, were all shot dead on Tuesday before their suspected killer turned himself in at 5 p.m.

They were all students who dedicated their lives to education and raised funds to help Syrian refugees.

The suspect is a 46-year-old white male.

The story was reported by local media and circulated on the web, sparking outrage about the lack of national coverage. Soon after, the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter emerged on Twitter and Facebook. 

Despite news of the crime spreading rapidly on the Internet, major U.S. media outlets did not report on the triple-murder until the next morning. British Newspaper the Independent posted a story about the incident five hours before such prestigious U.S. newspapers as the New York Times and Washington Post.

While the Independent identified the victims as Muslim in the headline, the New York Times' headline read, "Man charged in death of 3 near University of North Carolina."

The Times disregarded the possible motives or the identity of the victims. It was like headlining the Boston Marathon terrorist attack story, "Man charged in the death of 3 in downtown Boston."

Unfortunately, the national mainstream media's apathy about the murder of the students shows that Muslim lives do not matter to the establishment.

The victims' significance is defined by their identity and national origin in this country.

If it had been a 46-year-old Arab pulling the trigger on three young white folks, the media would have hosted ex-military officials minutes after the incident to discuss which countries our government shall bomb next as a response.

As Arabs and Muslims, our faith and ethnicity only become a factor if we do something evil. However, when evil is inflicted upon us, we are overlooked. 

When three Muslims are victims of murder, in the headline of the New York Times they are merely "3."

We urge our community members to keep the lost lives of the three innocent students in the national consciousness by continuing to condemn the crime on social media and in their daily lives. We cannot count on the mainstream media to honor the memory of the three victims, but we will on our own.

Deah Barakat was a medical student. In a video that has circulated on the Internet after the crime, he urges people to donate to a medical mission that would allow him to travel to Turkey and tend to the dental needs of Syrian refugees there. 

This is the kind of spirit our victims had. We owe them attention.

Our government owes them justice.

In Augusta

"The GRU Muslim Student Association would like to invite you to join us in an emergency candlelight vigil in honor of the lost lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh who were shot by a neighbor in the apartment complex.

February 12 at 7:00pm, Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd, Evans, Georgia 30809.

"It is important to emphasize the importance of attending such events in order to raise awareness to the rising hate crimes not just against Muslims, but also against any other specific religion or race in the United States. All lives matter. Yesterday it was those three young college students, today or tomorrow it could be anyone else. Hate crimes must stop."

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