On Tuesday night, Craig Stephen Hicks shot 3 people execution style. This is not a whodunit. The big question is why. Were these murders a hate crime or “just” the result of a parking dispute? As Michael Wells pointed out, the fact that the media was um slow to report on this story already tells us about a general attitude when victims of horrific crimes are Muslims.
The families of Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha say that when Craig Stephen Hicks killed the three college students it was a hate crime. The police and Hicks’ wife claim Hicks shot his victims execution style, over an ongoing “parking dispute.”
In an ideal world, all crimes would be investigated with the same objectivity and with the same desire to follow the evidence where it leads. In an ideal world, the goal would be to see justice served for every victim of crime. No one would suggest that someone deserved to die based on their religion, their race or their political beliefs. Of course, in a perfect world no one would kill someone based on their religion, their race, their political beliefs or for that matter their sexual orientation.
That’s not the world we live in. In the hours since Kayla Mueller’s death was confirmed, conservatives seized the opportunity to declare her “an anti-Israel b***ch“because Kayla, a humanitarian worker, provided aid in predominantly Muslim parts of the world. In cases involving minorities as victims, all too often, the police and the media put the victim on trial. We saw it with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, just to name a few.
In that ideal world that I referred to, reasonable people would say “it’s too early to draw conclusions about Hicks’ motives. Let’s see what the investigation turns up.
In our reality, it’s almost as if there’s an effort to get ahead of the facts to frame the narrative of a horrible crime that left 3 young college students dead, their families mourning and the rest of us reacting.
Here’s what we do know. Police were called to a condominium near the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill after 5:00 pm on Tuesday evening. They found the three victims dead. Hours later 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks surrendered to police and was charged with 3 counts of first degree murder.On Wednesday morning, police said in a statement, it looks like this crime was the result of a parking dispute.
We know that 3 young people died needlessly because Hicks shot them execution style. The point of dispute is over his motive.
We know that Deah Barakat aged 23 and Yussor Mohammed aged 21 were newlyweds, married on December 27, 2014. Barakat studied dentistry. He raised thousands of dollars to provide dental care for victims of the Syria crisis. He also volunteered to provide the homeless in Chapel Hill with food and dental supplies. According to Buzzfeed, Barakat described his parents, Layla Fanary Barakat and Namee Barakat as “the greatest parents a kid could ask for.”
Had she lived, Yussor Mohammed was going to study dentistry too. Last year she completed her degree in human biology. She was scheduled to begin studying dentistry this August.
Razan Mohammad was a 19 year old student majoring in architecture and environmental design. She supported charities like Global Deaf Muslim, which advocated for equal access to Islam to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
According to various reports, Hicks was a self-described “anti-theist”.
The victims’ families held press conferences today, calling for this case to be investigated as a hate crime.
Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salha, the women’s father, said:
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.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Barakat’s sister, Suzanne called on authorities to “investigate these senseless and heinous murders as a hate crime,”
In a statement, Hicks’ wife portrayed him as someone who “often championed social causes and had no issues with others’ religions.
It is my absolute belief that this incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith but in fact was related to the longstanding parking disputes my husband had with the neighbors.
Um okay. Let’s look at Hicks said in his own words as written on his Facebook page.
I give your religion as much respect as your religion gives me.” There’s nothing complicated about it, and I have every right to insult a religion that goes out of its way to insult, to judge, and to condemn me as an inadequate human being – which your religion does with self-righteous gusto.
When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me.If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I. But given that it doesn’t, and given the enormous harm that your religion has done in this world, I’d say that I have not only a right, but a duty, to insult it, as does every rational, thinking person on this planet.
While Hicks didn’t identify which religion he was directing his comments at, it’s pretty clear that he did have issues with others’ religions.
Obviously, when a man shoots three people execution style, he had issues with his victims. The question is the nature of his hate. Are we seriously supposed to believe that Hicks was driven to kill 3 people execution style over a parking place? Was it because they practiced a religion? With all the Islamophobia flowing from both ends of the political spectrum, the possibility that Hicks was motivated out of hatred for the specific religion his victims practiced is very real.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.