There was an outpouring of anger on social media sites after a young man and two young women, all Muslim, were shot dead in their home in a quiet neighbourhood in North Carolina, USA.
Police have named the victims as 23-year old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his 21-year old wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her 19-year old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. Deah and Yusor were newlyweds, having married in December 2014.
Officers were called to reports of gunshots just after 5pm in Chapel Hill near the University of North Carolina. The victims were found dead at an apartment complex off campus.
The gunman, Craig Stephen Hicks – an atheist – reportedly turned himself in to the police. The motivation behind the murders is unclear at the moment but it appears to be a hate crime. The Chapel Hill Police Department released a statement which said it is questioning a person of interest in the crime “and has reason to believe that there is no ongoing threat to the public”.
Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill has been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is being held in the Durham County Jail.
The shootings have prompted outrage on social media over the media’s silence on the murders. Many on Twitter and Facebook are comparing the killings to the Charlie Hebdo shootings, with some calling on Barack Obama and other world leaders to condemn the attacks.
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France millions of people across the world condemned the attack of innocent victims, with world leaders meeting in Paris for a solidarity march. The shootings in Chapel Hill are no different, many agree. Under the #ChapelHillShooting, a Twitter user said, “I want to see protests. I want to see news coverage. I want to see marches. I want the same outrage expressed in France”.
“The media is the worst disservice to humanity. They do not care about Muslims or anyone of colour. Let’s be real. They will not have even a tenth of the same anger they had in France. Why? Because the victims are Muslims and non-white. The hypocrisy and double-standards in the West is absolutely disgusting”, Steph Cooke from Ashton-under-lyne, Manchester told TNT.
Mr Barakat was a dental student at the University of North Carolina and volunteered with a charity providing emergency dental care to children in Palestine. He was an avid Twitter user who wrote in January, “It’s so freaking sad to hear people saying we should ‘kill Jews’ or ‘kill Palestinians’. As if that’s going to solve anything”.
The victims were recently pictured together at the graduation of Mr Barakat’s sister-in-law, Razan, who ran a blog about her interest in photography and art.
One of the residents of the building where the shootings took place said, “It’s a really quiet community, a lot of graduate students, professionals and families. I thought it was pretty safe.”
There is now a Facebook page set up in memory of the three victims called “Our Three Winners”. The page’s administrators thanked people for their support and said it would post “official announcements”.
A post on the page read: “It sorrows us all to see what has happened here today. Please rely on each other and remember these beautiful souls in your happy thoughts. Their faith meant a lot to them, and it is in fact what helps us all feel at peace with the tragedy of their murder”.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri