Chapel Hill shootings spark #MuslimLivesMatter campaign
Published Wednesday, February 11, 2015 11:53AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 11, 2015 9:19PM EST
Frustrated by a lack of public outrage, Muslim social media users have launched the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag campaign to commemorate the lives of three students who were shot dead in North Carolina on Tuesday.
The hashtag encourages people to share the images and stories of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Barakat was a second-year dental student at the University of North Carolina, while Mohammad was preparing to study dentistry in the fall and Abu-Salha was studying architecture and environmental design.
Barakat and Mohammad were married in late December.
All three were shot and killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Tuesday in what police say was the result of an ongoing neighbour dispute over a parking spot. They have not indicated that racism was a factor.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested Tuesday and charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
A Facebook page called 'Our Three Winners' was launched Tuesday to commemorate the lives of the three victims. The page includes a video of Barakat making a charitable plea for Syrian refugees, a photo of Mohammad dancing with her father at her December wedding and a clip of Abu-Salha designing a model building.
"It sorrows us all to see what has happened here today," said one statement that was posted to the page early Wednesday. "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."
The page had more than 30,000 likes by noon ET on Wednesday.
Barakat's cousin, Haya Barakat, was among the many Twitter users who spread the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter in the wake of the killings. "Someone tell me racism/hate crimes don't exist. #MuslimLivesMatter," she tweeted.
My cousin, his wife and sister in law were murdered for being muslim. Someone tell me racism/hate crimes don't exist. #MuslimLivesMatter— Haya Barakat (@HayaBarakat) February 11, 2015
Others on Twitter have taken up the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag to talk about racism in North America. Some compared the deaths of Barakat, Mohammad and Abu-Salha to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two black men who were killed in altercations with police last year. The deaths of Brown and Garner sparked days of protest and several social media hashtags, including #BlackLivesMatter, #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreathe.
Some wonder why there hasn't been a similar reaction to the shootings in North Carolina on Tuesday.
I wonder when all world leaders will come and hold hands and march on the streets of Chapel Hill to condemn Islamphobia. #MuslimLivesMatter— Dr. Yasir Qadhi (@YasirQadhi) February 11, 2015
I am a Christian and #MuslimLivesMatter. Prayers to the families/friends of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad & Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.— Enitan Bereola, II (@bereolaesque) February 11, 2015
Islamophobia has no place in our society. #MuslimLivesMatter— Pamela Nonga (@pamnonga) February 11, 2015
It's crazy to think my family fled our homeland due to religious persecution only to be faced with it once again. #MuslimLivesMatter— Amela Jazvin (@MissBosnian) February 11, 2015
One user tweeted a photo of Barakat and Mohammad at their wedding in December.
Barakat's Twitter and Facebook accounts show him to be a big sports fan with an interest in social justice. His Facebook profile image appears to have come from his wedding photo shoot. It shows him in formal wear with black Nike sneakers on and a basketball in one hand.
An April 2, 2012 image on Barakat's Facebook page shows him standing with several Muslims wearing hoods or hijabs and holding anti-hate protest signs.
Another Facebook photo shows Barakat at a charity event offering dental services to the homeless.
His Twitter account is filled with tweets about football and basketball, along with Vine videos of people dancing.
Mohammad's Facebook photos show her playing with children, attending sports events and visiting Muslim holy sites.
Abu-Salha's Facebook photos show her at several Islamic charity events.
A recent tweet from Barakat about strife in the Middle East went viral after his death, with more than 2,800 retweets and 1,400 favourites on Twitter.
It's so freaking sad to hear people saying we should "kill Jews" or "Kill Palestinians". As if that's going to solve anything SMH— Deah Barakat (@arabprodigy30) January 28, 2015
Barakat then retweeted an answer from another user: "Kill hatred not people."