AIFD wishes to send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, murdered in cold blood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These young people – ages 23, 21, and 19, respectively, may have been targeted because they were Muslims – and in the case of the Yusor and Razan, who both wore headscarves, they were visibly so.
We know little about the suspect – Craig Stephen Hicks, age 46. Social media indicates that he was someone who wished religion would be eliminated entirely; some have questioned if there was some dispute between the parties over parking in the neighborhood. But as details emerge and as his ideology is examined, one thing is undeniable: unchecked and dangerous hatred is at the core of any senseless murder such as this.
The victims were young, but had already chosen paths that involved giving back to their communities: from feeding the homeless in North Carolina and providing them with medical supplies, to donating dental care to Syrian refugees and working to provide support to deaf communities.
Some have speculated that these murders were connected to vengeance – that is, revenge for the horrors committed under the banner of Islamism. Again, while we do not yet know what motivated Hicks, we must continue to work to combat the kind of hatred and hostility that pits good people of all faiths and none against one another.
As liberty-minded Muslims, we at AIFD receive hostility and worse from all fronts: from those within the Muslim community who wish to see us silenced, to those outside of our community who harbor hatred toward all Muslims. Young people in particular who choose a path of peace and positive action represent the future of not just this country, but of our improved global security and international peace.
It is essential to remember that the militants of ISIS and their ilk would like nothing more than to enflame the world into a tit for tat of public executions. Our prayer is that our fellow Americans join us, reform-minded Muslims, on a firm trajectory towards anti-Islamist reform globally, which promotes genuine liberty under the law. This cannot be done without the full constructive engagement of American Muslim communities.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and friends of Deah, Yusor and Razan; and to the entire Chapel Hill community, now rocked by this senseless and horrific violence. Our hearts are with you.