Do #MuslimLivesMatter in America

On February 10th, 2015, a horrendous incident occurred in Chapel Hill, North Carolina when three Muslims were murdered in their home, allegedly by their next door neighbor. Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and his daughter-in-law Razan Abu Salha were all students at UNC Chapel Hill pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees. Craig Stephen Hicks, the alleged perpetrator, was a student at Durham Technical Community College studying to be a paralegal. The night of the incident, Hicks turned himself in to the deputies.

Victims (from left to right): Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha, and Razan Abu Salha

Though it has been cited that this incident was simply the result of an ongoing parking dispute, one cannot help but wonder if it is in fact a hate crime. The relationship between Muslims and the western world is fragile, to say the least, following the attacks launched by terrorist organizations who claim they are fighting for Islam and practicing its true form. Stereotypes are made and people start generalizing that every Muslim believes in these values. This is simply false. Islam is not the danger, the radical followers are. These three Muslim students were described as charitable and kind people who were very much a part of the western civilization. Hicks was described as an angry man who said he was an Atheist with strong views on the Christian-Muslim conflict. The pieces almost fit too perfectly. A man with a history of violent thoughts, extremely interested in the religious war, and a proud owner of thirteen firearms murders three Muslim students. The fact is there is a stereotype that people hold regarding Muslims in this country, and as much as we try to ignore it and as much as we try to pretend that everyone is equal, inequality is alive and well in America. 

What’s one of the most surprising and incredible points of this story is how little the media has covered it. CNN reported the shootings seventeen hours after they occurred. Seventeen hours. In modern media this is an eon. People strongly reacted on social media by starting “#MuslimLivesMatter”, and only after this hashtag was trending did the story finally make its way on to the breaking news list. Even after it was made popular, the news only stayed on for a week or so before it was forgotten. People raised interesting points in which they hypothesized as to what would have happened if the perpetrator was Muslim and the victims were not. As you can imagine, the coverage would have most probably been strikingly different.

It is important to acknowledge the facts of a story and understand how the media treats it because it is usually a fair representation of what the society thinks of it. Most people are not prejudiced and understand that they cannot generalize about topics as sensitive as this one, but how little this story has been discussed proves otherwise. It is foolish to accept this only as a parking dispute and move on, as all of the facts point toward it being a hate crime. Everyone needs to understand that #MuslimLivesMatter.