Chapel Hill, N.C. — Thousands turned out Feb. 11 at a vigil on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in remembrance of three young Muslims murdered in their home near the school. Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his spouse of two months, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, all Palestinian, were shot in the head execution-style on Feb. 10.
Craig Stephen Hicks, who turned himself in to authorities, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shootings at an apartment building in Chapel Hill. Hicks is a white man whose Facebook profile shows him as a member of the “Atheists for Equality” group. He has frequently posted quotes critical of religion. Three weeks ago, he posted a photo of a .38-caliber revolver that he said was loaded and belonged to him.
While the Chapel Hill police department says the incident may have been related to an ongoing parking dispute, the fact that all three victims were Muslim has led to many in the community and worldwide to rightfully raise that Hicks acted out of racist hate. The main message of the vigil called upon the community to stand against racism and islamophobia. Following the shootings, #MuslimLivesMatter became a major feed on Twitter, mainly criticizing the lack of mainstream media coverage on this heinous crime.
Another vigil is scheduled for the evening of Feb. 12 at N.C. State University in Raleigh, where Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was a student.