Georgia Southern Muslims react to Chapel Hill shooting

Nadia Dreid

Three Muslim students were shot to death in their apartment near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Tuesday night. The victims were newlyweds Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Mohammad’s sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested for the crime Wednesday morning after turning himself in and has been charged with three accounts of first-degree murder.

The victims were all Muslims of Arab-descent, and pictures of the women on social media sites show them wearing hijab, the Islamic headscarf. As the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting began to trend on Twitter Tuesday night, users wondered why media outlets had not yet reported on what they perceived to be a hate crime.

On what is believed to be Hicks’ personal Facebook page, he refers to himself as an “anti-theist” and shared his dislike of religion, as well as pictures of his loaded handgun.

In a 911 call from the scene, the caller describes walking by the apartment when she heard women screaming and three gunshots. CNN reported that sources confirmed that all three victims were shot in the head.

Chapel Hill police announced Wednesday that they believe the murders were a result of a dispute over parking. However, Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of two of the victims, told the Raleigh News Observer that the murders were a hate crime.

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha said. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”

We need to educate people. Not only is it a humanity error – shooting people, can’t find another way of dealing with problems. If it is a Muslim thing, people need to know more. About not even just Islam, about Christianity . . . just know more.” – Kimberly Wiese, senior business major, said.

“That’s a lot for a parking space. And that’s also a lot for not liking somebody’s religion. There’s a lot of things I don’t like, but I don’t go around – there are other things you can do. You can protest, you can speak out against it, it’s awful. I think it’s just sad. There’s not an excuse to shoot someone for any reason. That’s the beauty of living in this country. You can be a religion or you can not be a religion and we’re free to do that, so if this is in fact a hate crime, it’s really upsetting.” – Christina Salhi, Spanish instructor, said.