Three students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are murdered and their deaths used as propaganda. The victims, all members of the Muslim faith, Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, were shot and killed by Craig Hicks.
Although the shooter’s motive is unclear, the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement noting the possible connection between Hicks’s anti-religion statements and the religious affiliation of the victims.
“Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” the statement read.
Their deaths also gave rise to the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter and #chapelhillshooting.
A Facebook post alleged to belong to Hicks has been widely shared online, including: “When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I.”
Hicks is reportedly a member of groups including “Friends of Freedom from Religion Foundation,” “Atheism on Youtube,” and a fan of renown atheist Richard Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion.”
Again — no one has been able to confirm the authenticity of the post or his Facebook page. Meanwhile, police have charged Hicks with three counts of first-degree murder, but have yet to confirm the shooting as a hate crime.
Police spokesman Lt. Joshua Mecimore said a preliminary investigation indicates the crime was “motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” and that Hicks is cooperating with investigators.
However, bowing to pressure, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue added in a press release, “Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act. We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case.”