Monday, August 3, 2015

The Story of a Hate Crime What led to the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill? BY MARGARET TALBOT

Must read!

From the June 22nd, 2015 New Yorker:

In “The Story of a Hate Crime” (p. 36), Margaret Talbot examines the killing of three young Muslims in a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, apartment complex, in February this year, and explores the search for answers in the aftermath of the crime. Talbot speaks to the friends and families of Deah Barakat, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan, who were shot execution-style by Craig Hicks—an irate forty six-year-old who had previously brandished his gun in the presence of his neighbors. “The murders of Deah, Yusor, and Razan, like all unprovoked acts of brutality, were pointless,” Talbot writes. “But they were not meaningless. From the moment the news broke, people began the work of assigning that meaning.” The Chapel Hill police had one interpretation: after Hicks’s arrest, they issued a statement declaring that the killings had likely been “motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.” The Barakats and the Abu-Salhas found the“parking dispute” interpretation trivializing and implausible. For many, the killings fit into a larger story of increasing hostility toward Muslims.
According to statistics compiled by the F.B.I., anti-Muslim hate crimes multiplied after September 11th, and they have remained five times as common as they were before 2001. Barakat’s sister, Suzanne, tells Talbot, “It’s time people started talking about how real Islamophobia is—that it’s not just a word tossed around for political purposes but that it has literally knocked on our doorstep and killed three of our American children.” The F.B.I. and the Department of Justice have opened an inquiry into whether the killing constituted a hate crime, and the Durham County prosecutor has announced that it is pursuing the death penalty against Hicks. “To the families and friends of the victims, it was the naming of the crime, not the punishment, that mattered most,” Talbot writes.