Lack of Media Coverage on Fatal Muslim Student Shooting Inexcusable

Photo courtesy of Calamity_Sal, Flickr Creative Commons

A grand jury indicted the man who fatally shot three Muslim students over an alleged parking dispute in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Feb. 17, initiating a national conversation on religion and race.  

Craig Hicks, 46, is the perpetrator of the heinous crime and a self-described atheist. His Facebook page reveals his anti-religion stance, and the victims’ relatives say he was resentful toward the female Muslim victims because they wore headscarves.

Hicks was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder and charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, according to the Durham County Clerk’s office.

Despite the national media’s lack of coverage on the severity of the crime, the public outcry of Arab and Muslim communities on whether or not the violent murder was, instead, a calculated hate crime is under investigation by the FBI.

If one thing is clear to me, it is that the violent attack on the three victims, Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, is just another reminder of the fact that Islamophobia is alive and well in America.

Individuals do not have to look further than their local movie theatres to see that the national media constantly vilifies Muslim people. 

“American Sniper,” the film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, depicts a U.S. soldier fighting in Iraq and certainly encourages violence against Muslims.

Sister of one of the victims, Dr. Suzanne Barakat, listed the film as part of the culture of Islamophobia in America on Friday.

Coincidently, just one month after the film’s premiere, arson was suspected at Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, which burned down one building.

The anti-Islamic behavior of white Americans who believe that all Muslims are terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center is inexcusable and downright shameful. 

Even President Barack Obama on Friday called the Muslim students' fatal shootings “brutal and outrageous,” according to the Washington Post.

Americans are so quick to discredit the young lives and potential of the victims because of their religion, but never stop to think how their idealistic views are flawed and inappropriate. 

Would their reactions, along with the national media’s, be different if the case involved an Arab/Muslim man murdering three white Christian Americans? Without a doubt.

“We live in a country where the top movie glorifies the killing of Arabs and Muslims,” said Amer Zahr, a writer and adjunct law professor at the University of Detroit according to “People have exited that movie writing terrible hate-filled things about us. A whole generation of young Americans is brought up playing video games where the main objective is killing 'enemies' who look like us. It is this atmosphere of xenophobia and Islamophobia that we live with every day. We are victims of media brutality.”