Muslim Lives Matter

Posted on May 2, 2015 by

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#MuslimLivesMatter This is a hashtag that has been trending worldwide since the incident occurred on February 10th, 2014. The incident involved three Muslim college students (Deah Shaddy Barakat,23; Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha,21; Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha,19) and their neighbor(Craig Hicks).  Hicks knocked on the door of the three students then walked in and shot all three of them in the head. The question that arose from this incident was this: did Hicks kill the three college students because of their religion?

To determine the motive behind the triple homicide, you first need some background information. The three college students all shared the same apartment. Barakat and Yusor were married, and Deah was the sister of Yusor. Apparently Hicks and the three college students had a few arguments over the parking spaces at the apartment complex that they all lived at. There were visitor parking spaces at the apartment complex and each apartment was allowed to use one parking space at a time. The parents’ of the victims and neighbors who lived at the apartment complex confirmed the run-ins that Hicks often had with the three students. On several occasions Hicks had gone up to the college students’ apartment and had knocked on the door with his gun in hand and yelled at the students about the parking spaces. One of the incidents occurred when one of the victims was moving into the apartment and there was more than one visitor’s parking space being used by the students. Another occurrence was when one of the victim’s mother was parked in a visitor space because she was delivering her daughter’s wedding dress.

The police’s initial investigation determined that the reason for the shooting was due to the disputes of the parking spaces. The victims’ families were not so easily convinced. The father of the two girls said that at the beginning everything was peaceful with Hicks. Deah Shaddy Barakat was living in the apartment alone and had no problems with Hicks. It was when the two daughters moved in wearing headscarves that identified them as Muslims that the problems starting occurring.

The shooting of these three students started an outbreak on Twitter. People all over were tweeting about how this was a hate crime and the shooting isn’t getting enough media coverage. A lot of people think that the excuse of the shooting being about parking spaces is not legitimate. So this raises the question: did Hicks kill the three college students over parking spaces or was this a hate crime?

The media coverage on this shooting was based on what Hicks’ real motive was. Was it about the parking spaces dispute or was it about religion? Different sources provided different opinions. Most of the articles on this subject described both sides and never fully gave their opinion on what they believed the motive was. Majority of the articles said the police believe the motive was the parking spots, but they would look into the hate crime possibility. The articles describe what happened and provide more information about Hicks and about the three victims. Most articles talked about the victims and how they were related. They talked about how the victims had volunteered in previous years and were raising money to go on another trip to help young refugees affected by the Syrian civil war. Most articles had quotes from friends or family about how kind, giving, and smart each of the victims were. Almost all of the articles also talked about Hicks and some of his previous posts on Facebook. The articles displayed how Hicks is an atheist and he posted negatively about religion on his Facebook page. They also talked about how Hicks is very into the right to bear arms and he had posted a picture of his gun on his page. Four out of the ten articles mentioned the opinions of Hick’s wife. She claims that the shooting was not a hate crime and that it was a result of the previous arguments her husband and the three college students had over the parking spaces. All of the articles discussed the possibility of this being a hate crime, but some articles inferred it more than others. Most of the articles had quotes from the girls’ father saying that this was definitely a hate crime and not about parking spaces. Overall the articles make it seem like the police believe the motive was parking space based, but the family and most everyone on social media believe this is a hate crime.

The article from mashable.com talks about how the motive could be either parking or religion based, but it seems to lean more toward the hate crime motive. The title of the article contains the words ‘possible hate crime’ where most of the other articles don’t mention that in their titles.

The article from usatoday.com is equally balanced. Facts are provided for both sides and it doesn’t favor one motive more than the other. I thought the title was not appropriate for the message they were conveying. The article says ‘Chapel Hill ‘rocked’’ by killing of 3 Muslim students. I thought using the word rocked wasn’t very somber and they could’ve chosen a more appropriate word.

The article from nytimes.com was also portrayed as equal when it came to motive. This was one the few articles that mentioned the fact that people were upset with this story not getting widespread news coverage. This was a reason that the hashtag MuslimLivesMatter started.

The cnn.com article was equally balanced and gave even more facts behind the parking lot arguments than any of the other articles. It went into detail about why the students and Hicks got into arguments in the first place. Unlike the other articles, CNN didn’t talk about the victims a lot. Most of the other articles mentioned the volunteering of the victims and other work they did.

Aljazeera.com was the article that focused more on the victims than the shooter and the shooting itself. The one thing that stood out to me in this article was the fact that the first paragraph had the line “3 American students” instead of “3 Muslim students”. That is very powerful, because everyone is making this about religion and the shooting being a hate crime and people are divided over it. This article shows us that it doesn’t matter what religion they are, they were born and raised in the U.S. and should be treated as such no matter what their religion is or ethnicity is.

Gawker.com’s article was short compared to the rest and didn’t go into detail. The article didn’t talk about the victims and it said no motive has been determined. They did mention that it was potentially a hate crime.

The article from nypost.com was one of the articles that seemed to side more with the motive being religion based, rather than the police’s theory of being parking based. It uses a lot of wording that supports the hate crime theory. The title of the article says ‘shot execution style’ so the article title gave off the opinion that this was a hate crime even before the article is read.

Abc11.com was balanced, but towards the end of the article it talks a lot about the victims. It went into detail about the victims volunteering and it provided a lot of quotes from people who were mourning them.

The ryot.com was the article that was the most biased. The article didn’t mention the shooting potentially being carried out over the parking spaces argument. It says it is an apparent hate crime. The article did talk about the victims at the end of the article like the others.

The final article from vice.com took a different approach than all the other articles. This article was more about the suspect and his wife. The title is about Hick’s wife and how she thinks her husband’s motive was the parking dispute. It does mention later on this article that the victims’ father believe it’s a hate crime, but it still seemed to focus on the shooting being parking space based.

Overall I think that most articles gave off the opinion that the motive was more based on the parking issues than it being about religion. Social media seems to think the opposite and they believe this is a hate crime and Hicks is being let off easy. Personally I think it was a mix of reasons. Hicks and his wife were in the process of a divorce when the shooting occurred so I think Hicks was at a rough point in life. Based on Hicks’ religious beliefs I think this was about religion and that’s the reason he argued with the students about the parking spaces in the first place because he didn’t like the fact that they were Muslim. So the motive may be the arguments about the parking spaces, but there is more behind it than the police believe.

http://mashable.com/2015/02/11/muslim-students-chapel-hill/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/02/11/north-carolina-muslim-students-gunman-chapel-hill/23222317/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/12/us/muslim-student-shootings-north-carolina.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/11/us/chapel-hill-shooting/

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/students-murdered-university-north-carolina-campus-150211093231033.html

http://gawker.com/three-muslim-college-students-slain-in-shooting-near-un-1685160166

http://nypost.com/2015/02/11/man-kills-muslim-students-near-unc-cops/

http://abc11.com/news/3-muslim-students-shot-to-death-in-chapel-hill-neighbor-charged/512086/

http://www.ryot.org/three-muslim-college-students-hate-crime/921174

https://news.vice.com/article/wife-says-husband-shot-three-muslim-students-over-parking-not-religion

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