I’m a frequent critic of claims that there is — or has been — a major anti-Muslim backlash in the United States. All the more reason I should acknowledge and condemn anti-Muslim hate crimes when they do in fact occur. That appears to be what happened in North Carolina, and it’s just awful.
Three young members of a Muslim family were killed by a gunman Tuesday afternoon in their home near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
A suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46-year-old self-professed atheist who recently expressed opinions online about violence in the Middle East, surrendered to police and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Found dead were husband and wife Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, as well as Yusor’s sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19. All three were shot “execution style,” The Independent reported.
Barakat, a Syrian-American, is a doctoral student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry, according to the Charlotte News and Observer. His wife and her sister attend North Carolina State.
The fact that the apparent murderer was a passionate atheist is no doubt inconvenient for some looking to have this story fit a certain narrative. But there’s time for all that later. As it stands, it sounds to me like this Hicks guy should get the death penalty, whatever his motivation.