Solemn Gathering in memory of the slain

Ryan+Quinn+%2F+Photo+Editor
Back to Article
Back to Article

Solemn Gathering in memory of the slain

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Three Muslim-American students at UNC-Chapel Hill were killed execution style, in their apartment complex, on Feb. 11. Neighbor Craig Hicks shot the students over an argument that police reports and media say stemmed from a parking dispute, but others are calling it a hate crime. There is speculation that the three victims were targeted because of their appearance and religion. Deah Barakat and Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha have been described as compassionate, beautiful, and brilliant people.
Barakat was a second-year dental student at UNC-Chapel Hill, who formed a non-profit; Project Refugee Smiles is dedicated to providing dental care to Syrian refugees and their children. He helped raise money to aid those most in need and fixed their smiles. Thanks to his efforts, those children will have a better quality of life. Yusor Abu-Salha married Barakat in December, and planned to study dentistry at UNC. Her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, was a creative artist who majored in architecture and environmental design. They were both honor students and dedicated to community service.

Vigil: Students gather in solidarity for victims

Reflection: Muslim, non-Muslim students gathering at the clocktower while a Quran prayer verse is recited. Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Reflection: Muslim, non-Muslim students gathering at the clocktower while a Quran prayer verse is recited.
Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

On Feb. 12, the Muslim Student Association at SLU (MSA) held a prayer vigil at the clock tower, in remembrance of Barakat, Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha. The frigid temperature did not deter people from coming together in a show of solidarity. The St. Louis chapter of CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) also sponsored the event.

Beginning with verses from the Quran, members of the MSA prayed for the victims and their families; then described Barakat, Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha.

“In their own ways, these individuals exemplified our very own Jesuit Mission-

being men and women in service to their communities, both local and beyond… Although their time in this world has come to an unexpected end, we stand in solidarity with their families and loved ones and all those who have had their lives unfairly cut short,” Mustafaa Mahmood, a senior member of MSA, told the audience.

Many attendees felt strongly about the tragedy and the status of American Muslims today.

“I believe I speak for most people when I say we felt rather numb after hearing about this devastating story. In light of the limited media coverage, I believe that it was our duty as student leaders to voice our opinion and stand up for the innocent lives lost in Chapel Hill, regardless of what religion they were. Not only was this a [day of] sorrow for Muslims, but for all of humanity. It was a beautiful sight to see the entire community come together in search of peace and prayer. We cannot belittle our efforts of organizing vigils like these, because it not only strengthens the community, but we were also blessed to raise over $400 on Deah [Barakat]’s behalf for his Syrian Relief initiative,” said Adil Husain, president of MSA.

Many Muslims decried the lack of media coverage, believing it was indicative of a double standard for Muslim-Americans.

Amaly Yossef, a junior studying public health, said, “I am ashamed at the lack of media coverage this story had. If it [were] not for the spoken words of Muslims around the world on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, no one would have even heard that this tragedy had happened.”

She continued saying, “Why wasn’t this story covered as breaking news on all media outlets? Why wasn’t the murderer labeled as a terrorist? Why is social media justifying this horrific act by stating it was over a parking dispute rather than a hate crime? The double standards in our society today, has made it very difficult for Muslims to be accepted. We are being targeted and being labeled as terrorists.”

When asked about the role of Muslims in America today, Yossef replied, “As a Muslim in today’s society my goal has been to educate others. I want to change the narrative and educate the public about the true peaceful teachings of Islam.”

Yossef added, “I cannot be silent about Islamophobia, it is my duty to stand up as an American Muslim and practice my freedom of speech. For me, what it means to be an American Muslim is using my rights to promote peace, love, and compassion to all religions and faiths, and be accepted while doing so.”

Others shared snippets of life as American-Muslims today in the post-9/11 world.

One member of the MSA was told by an advisor to omit “Muslim Student Association” from his resume because of employer bias.  Another stated that such shootings, harassment, and attacks are the reason why she stopped wearing hijab.

A freshman said she felt “disgusted by [the shootings]… I didn’t think the media did enough. I didn’t like that they made it about a parking dispute.” After being asked what she would say to American Muslims, she replied, “Stay strong, remember we are all one community. One person’s actions don’t reflect the whole.”