The following is a statement released by the Claremont Main Road Mosque, in response to the recent killing of three Muslim youths in Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
The Claremont Main Road Mosque (CMRM) condemns in the strongest possible terms the callous murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina on Tuesday February 10, 2015. Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19) were all found slain in their North Carolina apartment in the city of Chapel Hill. Early reports indicate they were shot in the head executionstyle. This brutal and cowardly attack on three young Muslims have all the hallmarks of a hate crime. Given the growing anti-Muslim sentiment generated in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings in early January 2015 and exacerbated by ISIS’s continuing cruel and inhumane killings of hostages and innocent citizens, it is not surprising that Islamophobic hate crimes committed by individuals will be on the rise.
It is, however, deeply troubling to note that in stark contrast to the sensationalist media coverage of atrocities in which Muslims are implicated, the media has been either silent or circumspect in reporting on and covering this apparent Islamophobic hate crime. Few media outlets covered it as headline news, with no mention of it at all in the Cape Times of Wednesday 12 February 2015. There has been no speculation of the motive of the killer nor conjecture that he might have been acting in the name of some religious or other ideological group. There has been no suggestion that the killer might be an ideological extremist or ‘terror suspect’. Instead, reports have suggested the possibility that the killings might have arose from an ongoing dispute about parking! There have been pleas from police and others to allow the investigation to proceed before jumping to conclusions. Comparing this media coverage to that of violent acts committed by Muslim perpetrators, it begs the vexing question: to what extent is the media complicit in the rising tide of Islamophobia and its accompanying atrocities?
We call on all peace and justice loving people to unequivocally condemn the rising tide of Islamophobia in order not to allow the actions of misguided extremists to sow hatred and discord within our communities worldwide. At this difficult time we should stand united in showing even greater interreligious and human solidarity in the face of such overt and brash malevolence.
We call on the US authorities to establish and make public the motives for the killings of the alleged perpetrator who is currently in their custody. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, the loved ones, colleagues and friends of these three young people whose lives were snuffed out so brutally.