Authorities hesitant to proclaim murder of three Muslim young adults as hate crime


Veronica Liow, Managing Editor

On Feb. 19, 2015, near the University of North Carolina campus, Craig Stephen Hicks shot to death three Muslim young adults: Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, over a supposed parking dispute on Feb. 10, 2015.

The three were shot in the head. Deah Shaddy Barakat and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha were young newlyweds; Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was the sister of the latter.

The recently-merged families spent the days mourning over the loss of their loved ones while Hicks was arrested and charged for three counts of first-degree murder and one count of discharging of a firearm into an occupied dwelling.

Police called the FBI to investigate the Chapel Hill shooting in order to determine whether or not Hicks should also be charged with a hate crime, a criminal act targeted at a specific race, gender or  religious group.

Others see no need to investigate what appears an obvious hate crime.

The father of the two female victims states that the Hicks had never been a kind neighbor the moment two evidently Muslim women moved in.

According to the father, his daughters said, “Daddy, I think he hates us for who we are and how we look.”

Samantha Maness, a neighbor of Hicks, describes the suspect as having an angry demeanor, which makes others feel “uncomfortable and unsafe.”

In addition, Maness says, “I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community.”

Those who believe Hicks shot the three Muslim young adults out of hate for their religion claim that it is unreasonable for a person to fire at people due to a parking dispute and therefore the underlying reason must be hate towards Muslims.

The father of the two female victims firmly supports his stance that Hick intentionally murdered his daughters and son-in-law due to bias and prejudice against Muslims.

“This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime,” he said.

However, some, including Hick’s wife and attorney, believe that Hicks may have been too impulsive or even faced mental issues.

His wife, Karen Hicks, stood firmly against the possibility of hate crime, stating that “this incident had nothing to do with religion of the victims’ faith but it was related to long-standing dispute that my husband had with the neighbors.”

She also mentioned she was in the process of divorcing from Hicks.

Those defending Hicks argued that the divorce was a stress factor that resulted in Hick’s overreaction over the parking dispute.

Hick’s attorney, Rob Maitland, said, “Obviously it’s not within the range of normal behavior for someone to shoot three people over parking issues.”

As of Feb. 26, Hick was indicted for the three murders of the Muslim young adults and the discharging of a firearm into an occupied dwelling. The FBI continues to investigate the possibility of the Chapel Hill shooting as a hate crime.

But many wonder if there is a need for investigation, when the facts so clearly point to a hate crime.

Ben Brumfield from CNN stated, “Some allege there’s a double standard at play here. They say that if the situation was reversed, law enforcement and the media wouldn’t hesitate to call it a hate crime or a terrorist act.”

There is currently widespread outrage in the United States that people have yet to understand why despite being called “American”, not everyone receives the same rights and freedoms.

In fact, Scholastic, Inc. asked multiple children what it means to be an American.

Cody S, a 10-year-old from Wisconsin said, “Being an American means that we are all treated equally no matter what color skin you have, and it doesn’t matter what culture you are from.”

An 11-year-old from Hawaii, Jonathan B. agrees.

“Being an American is to help another, whether it be Polish or Chinese or Afghan or Muslim … Being American means to be united as one, under whatever deity you worship, and to be able to depend, rely, and give hope to each other.”

In response to the Chapel Hill shooting, Obama said, “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.”

He echoes the sentiments felt by many of the devastating loss of not only three Muslim Americans but also a recently merged family, as well as the terrible sense of injustice with the case.

Barry Sanders of the News and Observer said, “… people all over the world have now been deprived of the services Deah, Yusor and Razan would have rendered unto them.”

As people from all over the country mourn along with the families of the murdered Muslims, many see yet another murderer protected under the law.