American Muslims React to Chapel Hill Shooting

American Muslims React to Chapel Hill ShootingAmerican Muslims React to Chapel Hill Shooting

While the true motives behind the Chapel Hill shooting have yet to be made known (and may never be), the great pains to which the media has gone to avoid discussions of Islamophobia has not gone unnoticed in the Muslim-American community.

Despite some obvious indications that alleged shooter Craig Stephen Hicks acted, at least in part, out of anti-Muslim bigotry, the media’s obsessive quest to etch out the “parking dispute” narrative with laser-like focus stands in almost comical contrast to the way acts of terror are covered when the roles are reversed, and the perpetrator is Muslim, Muftah wrote.

On Wednesday night at the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus, Muslim students gathered at a rally organized by the student group Al-Madinah Cultural Center (AMCC) on the steps of the Coffman Memorial Union building to denounce the murder of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammed, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha at Chapel Hill. In a statement released by the group, AMCC expressed the importance of Muslim voices being heard in response to the tragedy:

“We condemn the ignorance that spurred the attack on Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha. Deah and Yusor were dental students who had recently married, and Razan was Yusor’s sister. She was a first year student in Architecture and Environmental Design at North Carolina State University.”

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR-Minnesota, made an appearance before the vigil to denounce the murders and what he saw as hypocritical attitudes in the way the event was being covered, or, rather, not covered.

“What happened yesterday, I hate to say it, was almost expected because we haven’t stood up when Muslims are being called terrorists. The media doesn’t want to talk about it because it’s not ISIS. If the names and roles were reversed, we’d have a 24 hour cycle about who they were and what they were and what color they were.”

  Double Standard

AMCC board member and University of Minnesota student Ahmed Sidiqqui sees a double standard in what it takes for stories such as these to take hold in the mainstream discourse.

“The reaction on social media that led the way for the media to bring their attention to this was led mostly by Muslims. That would not have been required to gain national attention if the situation had been different, as far as our experiences go in history, when we see things like this happening.”

Another AMCC member, Annis Nusseibeh noted, “When you hear about these three Muslims, it resonates across the Muslim Ummah. They were amazing community members, amazing students, and amazing Muslims – and we wanted to let people know that.”

Abdel-Khalek, a Muslim student posed a question. “Had it been the reversal of roles, how fair would it be to the families of three white victims if we began entertaining the cause may have been a parking dispute,” he asked. “When the Muslim killer entered the house and killed them execution style. A bullet in each head. From the back. All the while the killer’s Facebook page had numerous posts and content showing his disdain for anyone who wasn’t religious.

“As if disputing over parking is something we would entertain to take someone’s life. Execution style. In the head. From the back. Please. Save us the insult and dehumanization.”

That many in the American Muslim community feel unfairly treated by and portrayed in the media can probably be best exemplified by’s context-free headline on Monday that bluntly read, “3 students shot to death.” In contrast, as Ali Abunimah perfectly laid out, no second was wasted in labeling the Boston marathon bombing or the Fort Hood shooting as acts of terror. It is no wonder, then, that some Muslims just don’t feel safe in this country anymore.