On Tuesday, February 11, three Muslim family members (Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha) were shot in their home near the University of North Carolina. All of them were students at nearby universities. Their neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested and charged with the murder. The police speculate that the cause of the shooting was a dispute over parking, but the relatives of the three victims believe the shooting was simply a hate crime.
Deah Barakat pictured with his wife Yusor Abu-Salha (center) and his sister-in-law, Razan Abu-Salha (far right).
Hick's ex-wife, Karen, said at a press conference, "This incident had nothing to do with religion or victims' faith but instead had to do with the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors."
However, many people seem to think otherwise. To show their disapproval toward the police's theory about the crime occurring solely because of a parking dispute, the hashtag "#MuslimLivesMatter" started to trend. The hashtag also played an important role in the shooting because many people were frustrated with the lack of media coverage about this event. The power of social media was put into play by having many people furiously share their opinions about the likely possibility of this crime happening due to religious intolerance. Similar to what happened earlier in Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter, Americans are playing an important role in demonstrating their beliefs and morals through social media.
The few pieces of media coverage this event got all included the fact that the victims were Muslim. For example, the title of Huffington Post's article was "3 Members of Muslim Family Shot Dead in Chapel Hill" and Washington Post's article is entitled, "Three Muslims killed in Shooting near UNC."
If these three victims were all Christian, I do not think the headlines would be "Three Christians Killed," instead, they would most likely read, "Three Students Killed." The fact that the headlines all include information about their religion shows that this most likely is a hate crime, and #MuslimLivesMatter is extremely relevant.