Three Muslim American students were shot to death last Tuesday at about 5:15pm, at a residential complex of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a suspect has been arrested over the incident, according to local police.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested and charged with killing the three Muslim students after turning himself in last Tuesday. His hearing was set for March 4 and he is being held without bond.
Chapel Hill police stated that the killing of the three students was motivated by a dispute over parking.
The victims were identified as 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
How the police can consider these murders as being over a dispute about parking spaces seems outrageous. The father of the 2 women who were murdered stated that his daughter had complained that they had a neighbor, Craig Hicks, who was “hateful” and that he walked around more than once with a gun in his waistband.
One particular incident involving Hicks and these young students occurred when the students were socializing in the home of Deah Shaddy Barakat and his wife, Yusor Mohammad, playing parlor games. After their guests left, Hicks appeared at their door with a gun in his hand claiming that they made too much noise and woke his wife. Yusor was apologetic and wasn’t sure how to respond. It is reported by her friend that she was reluctant to report the incident to the police.
This is more than a conflict about parking. Hicks entered the apartment of this young couple and shot all three youngsters in the head, execution style.
There are many things to consider. First, there is a lack of media attention to and reporting of these murders. How would the media respond if it was a Muslim man executing 3 white, Christian or Jewish students? Would we not be talking about Islamist terrorism? Would the entire Muslim community be expected to respond and apologize for this act and reassure us that this does not reflect the teachings of the prophet Mohammad?
Second, how is it possible to see this white man as struggling with mental health problems and not recognize that he was terrorizing these young students for a period of time? After all, the Charlie Hebdo boys were immediately labeled terrorists without any mental health issues.
It has become evident for several years that when white men murder, it is a crime committed by a vicious or troubled individual, but when the same crime is committed by a Muslim, it is terrorism and a reflection of the entire Muslim community. No one in the Muslim community is allowed to suffer from emotional disabilities. The white man’s crime or terrorism is seen as an aberration while a Muslim’s crime is reflective of the ethos of Islam.
Third, one of the lawyers for the Hicks family stated that it was unfortunate that these youngsters were in the wrong place at the wrong time. What is difficult to understand is that these students were in their own homes, it was Hicks who was in the wrong place. If people cannot feel safe in their own homes, then where on earth is the right place to be?
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.