Shot US Muslims: media under fire

Shot US Muslims: media under fire

If you read some of the comments below the Al Jazeera report of the massacre of three young North Carolina Muslims – Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha Razan Abu Salha, pictured above – the impression you’d get is that mainstream Western media is virtually ignoring the tragedy.

Example: Ronny Culpepper wrote:

If these were ANYONE besides Muslim victims, this would be world news.  I, as an Anglo American Christian, am outraged that this is not treated the same by the American news media as it would be if it were Christian or Jewish.

And this, from Carl Prothos-Acton:

The shooter was a left wing anti religion nut case. that’s why the news ignored it. He used a standard .38 pistol and not some military grade weapon. So it doesn’t fit their agenda.
Comments such as these on Al Jazeera and on social media were reinforced by the cartoon below:


And in an Al Jareera op-ed Dr Mohamad Elmasry, an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama, wrote:

Western media outlets will likely frame the most recent perpetrator of what some speculate is an anti-Muslim crime in the same way they frame most anti-Muslim criminals – as crazed, misguided bigots who acted alone. If past coverage is any indication, there will likely be very little suggestion that the killer acted on the basis of an ideology or as part of any larger pattern or system.


He added that studies of Western media coverage of Islam indicate:

That Muslims are often portrayed in Western news media as violent, backwards, fundamentalist and as threats to Western civilisation. Western news coverage rarely highlights Islam except to show its possible relation to some atrocity, and Muslims are rarely mentioned in the context of news that is positive or benign.

The fact is that the story has – and continues to be – widely reported. Google “North Carolina Muslim shooting” and you will find 16 pages of headlines from around the world about the incident.

Hicks in his 'younger, hairier days'.

Hicks in his ‘younger, hairier days’.

According to the Independent,  the perpetrator – 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks – described himself as an “anti-theist” and criticised all religions online.

Police said Hicks handed himself in to officers in Chapel Hill overnight in the wake of the deaths of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

He has been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. As tributes poured in for the young family, a Facebook page in Hicks’ name showed that he read paralegal studies at Durham Technical Community College and described himself as a supporter of “Atheists for Equality” and he said he is a fan of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

The Cairo Post adds that Hicks’s Facebook cover photo reads:

I don’t deny you your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out it’s ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people. ANTI-THEISM: The conscientious objection to religion.

The shooting of the three Muslims has been widely condemned across social media, including by Richard Dawkins, who tweeted:

How could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?

Dar al-Iftaa, Egypt’s government-sponsored religious institution responsible for issuing fatwas and religious opinions, said in a statement:

This horrifying act of murder reveals the preposterous face of extremism and proves once more that the outrageous acts of terrorism do not have any religious base or faith association. This disheartening act could only come from those whose hearts are filled with hatred. This recent wave of gruesome acts of killing based on racial profiling and religious discrimination marks a dark chapter in human history …

The international media bears a great ethical responsibility in fighting extremism. The false association which some international media tends to make between Islam and brutal acts of terrorism gives room for ill-hearted, individuals with sick mentalities who have warped logic to outpour their rage and anger on innocent Muslims. The fuel of hatred and the storage of animosity should not be incited with erroneous associations between faith and terrorism as there is no religion could justify savagery and barbarity.

19 responses to “Shot US Muslims: media under fire”

  1. Vanity Unfair says:

    The Chapel Hill Murders Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Atheists

    Chapel Hill shooting: Craig Stephen Hicks condemned all religions on Facebook prior to arrest for murder of three young Muslims

    Chapel Hill shooting: Three American Muslims killed
    Three members of a Muslim family were killed on Tuesday near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, allegedly by a militant atheist

    And that’s only from the first page of reports. Several more mention the atheism in the first paragraph. I think most of us already knew that some of us are nutters too. The fact that the accused is an atheist is not being ignored in the USA.

  2. 1859 says:

    Whether this loon calls himself an atheist or a christian is irrelevant. The facts are he murdered three innocent people. He is a murderer and needs to be put behind bars for a very, very long time. Using any ideology, any superstition to justify murder is wrong.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    My sympathies and best thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.

  4. Cali Ron says:

    He’s a murderer and will no doubt be prosecuted for it. He certainly didn’t do atheists any good either. He just gave muslims one more case to complain about persecution and ammo for religiots to use against atheists. Condolences to the family and friends.

  5. dennis says:

    well my family and friends are going to give me shit about this. a Parking space, 3 dead humans who were contributing to society and a hot head, well not all humans use their brains even if the fairy’s are gone.

    Please understand family of Deah, Yusor,and Raxan I wish you well.

  6. Angelo Ventura says:

    The murder of innocent persons is a heinous and despicable crime, whoever the perpetrator and whatever his7her motives or religion/ideology. And please, no body count comparisons

  7. Lonbo says:

    Once again, no god stepped up to defend these unfortunate young people from a nutter with a gun who happened to have a healthy disrespect for religious mythology. It is very sad and a tragedy for us all.

  8. sailor1031 says:

    This kind of thing happens regularly in the USA. It’s a result of the lack of gun laws. Unstable people are allowed to go around carrying lethal weapons and sometimes they use them. Do muslims make the same fuss when the victims are not muslim, as they usually are not? In such a situation it is inevitable that some victims will be muslims; just as some will be catholics or lutherans, or jews, or buddhists, or hindus, or baptists, or various kinds of ‘brethren’ or atheists or whatever. Just as the victims of Hicks might have been of any or of no religion. This case is further evidence of national craziness and stupidity not militant atheism.

    Hicks is charged with three counts of first degree murder and won’t be able to use his religious convictions as a defence. Life without parole or death is the likely result for Him. All for a parking space not religion!

  9. Angelo Ventura says:

    Yeah, in the USA any crackpot can purchase guns at the local Mall (Special offer, free ammunitions for one gun purchase over 100$!) and is free to carry them everywhere, for, hey, it’s a constootootional right, ya know!

  10. barriejohn says:

    This news is, indeed, tragic.

    An update here:

    The wife of the man accused of killing three Muslim students said the attack was motivated by parking, not religion.

    Karen Hicks said she was “shocked” by the attack but said her husband Craig, 46, had parking disputes with many neighbours, of all religions…

    On Wednesday, the wife of Mr Hicks, Karen Hicks stood alongside a lawyer as she told reporters her husband believed “everyone is equal, it doesn’t matter what you look like, who you are or what you believe”.

    Her lawyer said the shooting had “nothing to do with the victims’ religious beliefs but had everything to do with a mundane parking spot dispute”.

    And, as others have said, nothing to do with insane gun laws!

  11. John the Drunkard says:

    All the initial reports seem to have assumed a ‘religious’ motivation. Only to have a second wave of reports about parking conflicts. Unlike the thousands of Islamist murders that the media refuses to address as such.

    In either case, this is a terrible crime, another American gun story that should trigger world wide shock.

    Funny that we haven’t heard from Chomsky and Ward Churchill about how it really is all about ‘chickens coming home to roost,’ or ‘offended’ atheists.

  12. Marky Mark says:

    Have another look at this…yes it is a tragedy but had a Christian or Muslim shot three atheists one can bet they would get support from their respective religious leaders and fellow followers…including financial support for lawyers.

    …So what would happen if we started a legal fund for this guy, we would be criticized until the end of time, but when they do it, it is a-ok.

    Yes this may have been about a parking spot but i think world events may have helped his decision to kill…especially the recent murders at that French Magazine.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Turkey has had the audacity to wade in now:

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised US President Barack Obama for his silence over the murder of three Muslim students in the US.

    He said politicians were responsible for events in their countries and had to clarify their stance over them.

    Can you believe that? What a fucking nerve coming from a man like him!

  14. Laura Roberts says:

    As the atheist community continues to grow in America, more unstable people will fall under its umbrella. Most of the people I’ve met at atheist meetups are pretty cool — people who share my values — but I have met a few who give me pause. Some seem to me to be as irrational as religious nut-jobs. They can’t handle nuance and seem to go out of their way to be rude and antisocial. As our numbers grow, so do the chances that something like this might happen.

    It hurts deeply to think of three more young students gunned down over some petty disagreement. It adds to the pain to think that someone calling himself “atheist” succumbed to deluded revenge fantasies.

  15. sailor1031 says:

    I wonder to what extent, if any, North Carolina’s “stand your ground” law influenced Hicks? If there was a dispute and he felt “threatened” he could have felt entitled to use deadly force. Are there any other witnesses? This might be another Zimmerman case.

    PS homicide rates in states with stand you ground laws are, according to several studies, statistically significantly higher than in the few states that don’t have such laws.

  16. Dan says:

    He seems to have gone to the victims’ apartment to kill them. I don’t see how “stand your ground” would apply?

  17. sailor1031 says:

    Well I could never see how it applied in Zimmerman’s case but it did.

  18. Dan says:

    I don’t think that’s clear at all. I’m no expert, but from a quick review, it seems the law was mentioned in jury instructions, but that it wasn’t actually cited by the defence as part of their case.