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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2610

A Bad Week – home and abroad

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Three Muslim students were murdered on February 10 in Chappell Hill, N.C. in what can only be described as a hate crime. As usual, the popular media in the USA initially did not mention that it was a targeted murder committed by a gun-trotting White racist whose all victims were Muslims. Only after the Internet had cried foul the media pundits corrected their reporting so as not to appear biased. I am sure if the victims were non-Muslims and the killer a Muslim, the media would have called him a Muslim or an Islamic terrorist.

The three Muslim victims included — a man, his wife and her sister — all college students who were all born in the USA and grew up in the North Carolina area. They were shot to death at a quiet condominium complex near the University of North Carolina.

It is worth recalling the recent controversy surrounding the Duke University campus, which is also located in North Carolina where Muslim students were denied the right to broadcast adhan on Friday for the weekly Jumu’ah prayer after a rabid, hatemongering Christian priest Franklin Graham had objected. [He called upon the donors and alumni to withhold their support from the university until Duke had reversed its permission for the Muslim call to prayer. The university authorities caved into his pressure once again showing that the so-called liberal campus is not committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students.] I won't be surprised to learn that the murderer was influenced by Graham's hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Tuesday shooting of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh. Deah and Yusor were married, and Razan was Yusor's sister, according to UNC (University of North Carolina). Deah was a second-year dental student there, and Yusor was scheduled to begin dental studies in the fall. Razan was a student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The neighborhood where they were found consists mostly of rental apartments and condominiums.

Mohammad Abu-Salha, a father of two of the victims and a local psychiatrist, called the shootings a "hate crime" that involved more than a parking dispute. "My daughter, Yusor, complained and she told us she felt that man hated them for the way they looked and the Muslim garb they wore," he told MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily. "She felt the heat has risen after she moved into the apartment and her friends came to visit and most of them wore Muslim attire. So she was worried about that."

Police have not released a motive and said the investigation is continuing. The FBI is now conducting a "parallel preliminary inquiry" to determine whether any federal laws, including hate crime laws, were violated in the case.
Search warrants filed in a court last Friday showed Hicks listed a dozen firearms taken from his condo unit. The warrants list four handguns recovered from the home where he lived with his wife, in addition to a pistol the suspect had with him when he turned himself in after the shootings. Warrants also listed two shotguns and six rifles, including a military-style AR-15 carbine, and a large cache of ammunition.

The UNC shooting case spurred international outrage.

"No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship," President Barack Obama said Friday in Washington. And in New York, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "deeply moved" by the thousands attending the victims' funeral this past week.

A press release Saturday from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world's largest bloc of Muslim countries, says the group's leader thanks the American people for "rejecting the murder which bear the symptoms of a hate crime." Secretary General Iyad Madani also says the slaying of the students has heightened international concerns about "rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts" in the United States.

In 2012 when statistics were last available for hate crime tally, law enforcement agencies nationwide reported 5,796 "hate crime incidents." It is unclear though how many yielded criminal convictions.

As if those targeted murders were not enough, last Friday (February 13) Quba Islamic Institute in Houston was set ablaze in the pre-dawn hours in what can also be described as a hate crime. The fire destroyed one of three buildings at the center, which remains fully operational.

In a video on the institute's Facebook page, Ahsan Zahid, son of the imam, said fire officials told him the fire appeared intentional. In an interview with KTRK-TV in Houston, Zahid said a smashed table that appeared to be vandalism was found on the property Friday morning. He also told the station that someone had driven by the institute Thursday evening, yelling "mocking chants," the station reported. Earlier in the week, an unknown masked man had to be chased off the property, according to the TV report.

Surely, our world is increasingly becoming a theatre of wanton violence and abysmal intolerance. And who would have thought that the US’s claims of epitomizing the notions of diversity and inclusion would be torpedoed by its own intolerant bigots and racists!

- Asian Tribune -

A Bad Week – home and abroad
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