Man arrested for ‘hate motivated’ killing of Muslim students

2015-02-12 07:53

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A man has been arrested and charged with shooting dead three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina, in the United States.

The three victims – Shaddy Barakat, a dentistry student; Yusor Mohammad, his wife; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, her sister – were killed on Tuesday afternoon not far from the university’s campus.

Chapel Hill police arrested the couple’s neighbour Craig Stephen Hicks yesterday and charged him with three counts of first-degree murder.

According to a preliminary investigation, the killings were motivated by a “neighbour dispute over parking”, the police said. However, they noted the possibility that the crime was “hate motivated”.

Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the two women killed, called the killings a hate crime and noted that his daughter had told him a week ago that she had “a hateful neighbour”, according to News and Observer, a local newspaper.

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha told the paper.

“This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”

Hicks’ wife, Karen Hicks, told a news conference that her husband’s actions had nothing to do with religion.

“He believed ... everyone was equal,” Hicks said. “That is one thing I know about him.”

She said her husband would often post messages on Facebook to express his support for equality and was a “champion” of rights for same-sex couples and people of all faith backgrounds.

The killings set off a social media firestorm after most mainstream outlets in the US didn’t report the story until Wednesday morning, a day after the attack. Many people took to social media using the hashtag #muslimlivesmatter to decry the slow media reaction.

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