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Muslim world asks: Were Chapel Hill shootings an act of terrorism?: Library Search

Title: Muslim world asks: Were Chapel Hill shootings an act of terrorism? By: Patrik Jonsson Staff writer, Christian Science
Monitor, 08827729, 2/14/2015
Database: Newspaper Source

Muslim world asks: Were Chapel Hill shootings an act of terrorism?


erican Accent


North Carolina; Barack Obama; United States; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chapel Hill; Social Issues; Hate Crimes; Crime; Crime
and Law; Murder and Homicide; Islam; Religion; Shootings; Media
US ofcials say the motivation for the shootingsTuesdayof three young Muslim-Americans by a self-avowed atheist in North Carolina
remains unclear. But growing numbers of Muslims around the world are weighing in with suspicions that the murders were an
American hate crime and, perhaps, as the Palestinian foreign ministry suggestedon Saturday, even an act of terrorism.
The killings ofDeah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salhashook the greater
Raleigh metro area, a former Southern backwater turned international destination for students and high-tech workers.
More deeply, the shootings came amid a backdrop of political tension in the US, highlighted last month at Duke University in Durham,
N.C., just a few miles from where the shootings took place, when university ofcials, amid complaints and threats, cancelled a plan to
amplify theFriday Islamic call to prayer through the university's iconic clock tower.
To be sure, Europe has had even deeper struggles with Muslims as some countries have banned the kind of head gear, the hijab that
the two women killedTuesdaywere wearing.
But the Pew Research Center has found that US attitudes, too, have chilled toward Muslims in general, largely because of growing
terror threats overseas, Pentagon reports of radicalized American Muslims ooding to Syria, simplistic media portrayals of Muslims,
and simmering concerns by a sliver of Americans about a conspiracy to establish Sharia law in US courts.
LateFriday, President Obama made his rst statement about the murders, after Turkish Prime MinsterRecep Tayyip Erdogan, who has
previously warned of growing Islamophobia in the West,called US leaders out for their "silence" over the killings.
"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,"
Obama said in a written statement.
The victims were buried Thursday. The accused shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, a 40-something concealed weapons carrier and selfappointed condo complex watchman, turned himself in, and is facing three rst degree murder charges, crimes heinous enough to be
punishable by death in North Carolina. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened a probe into the shootings as well, to determine
whether the murders were inspired by religious bias, which could add hate crime penalties.
Through the hashtag #muslimlivesmatter, condolences and suspicions have own across the globe via social media.On Saturday, the
Palestine Foreign Ministry weighed in, urging US authorities to investigate the shootings as a hate crime.
According to the state-run Palestinian News and Information Agency, the ministry called Mr. Hicks "an American extremist and hateful
racist," and added that the shootings amount to "a serious indication of the growth of racism and religious extremism, which is a direct
threat to the lives of hundreds of thousands of American citizens who follow the Islamic faith."
Accusations of terrorism against Muslims in America and further demands for Palestinian investigators to join the Chapel Hill Police
Department in their probe may seem ironic to some since the Palestinian Authority counts Hamas, a US State Department-labeled
terrorist organization, as a "governing partner."
Moreover, while hate crimes against Muslims increased by 50 percent in 2011, the vast majority of proven hate crimes in the US
every year are committed against blacks, gays, and Jews, according to the FBI. 1/2


Muslim world asks: Were Chapel Hill shootings an act of terrorism?: Library Search

But the undercurrent of the Palestinian response that Americans should be careful not to use a double standard when dealing with
crimes against Muslims seemed to be reected more broadly.
"If it, for example, was a Muslim man who executed three Christians, white American students who were young and beautiful and had
just gotten married what would the reaction be?" Steve Sosebee, who heads the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, told USA Today.
The shootings have also brought to the fore representations of Muslims in American media and lms. Some have suggested Clint
Eastwood's "American Sniper," about the life and death of the American Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, inspired anti-Muslim sentiments
online. And there are reports of a spike in sympathy for Mr. Hicks and his act on US social media sites.
"No one could reasonably suggest that western news and entertainment media organizations should ignore negative portrayals of
Muslims altogether," writesMohamad Elmasry, an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North
Alabama, on"It is not unreasonable, however, to ask for contextualized accounts, fairer portrayals, critical examinations
of the root causes of terrorism, an increase in Muslim voices, and news coverage that does more to separate ordinary Muslims from
groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL."
Chapel Hill authorities have not yet determined whether a hate crime took place, but there's evidence, according to the New York
Times, that Mr. Hicks, a self-avowed atheist who has criticized a variety of religions, displayed "equal opportunity anger" against other
residents, often in disputes over parking and noise. Police have said Hicks had had an ongoing spat with the three victims over their
use of visitor parking spaces.
But whether the Muslim garb worn by the female victims played a role in moving Hicks from menace to murder may be difcult to ferret
out. Nevertheless, there's growing international suspicion that creeping Islamophobia in the US may have somehow fueled the murders
on Summerwalk Circle, the Chapel Hill street where Hicks roamed, the Times said, as a "self-appointed watchman."
The bottom line among many Muslims in the US and abroad is that "the tragedy should mark a turning point in the uneasy national
conversation about Islam," writes Aamer Madhani, in USA Today.
By Patrik Jonsson Staff writer

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