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Caroline Culler/Wikimedia Commons

Internet erupts after murder of three Muslim college students in North Carolina

Where is all the media attention?


Aaron Sankin

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 11, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 1:55 pm CDT

A 46-year-old man named Craig Stephen Hicks allegedly shot and killed three Muslim college students on Tuesday in a Chapel Hill, N.C., condominium complex close to the nearby University of North Carolina campus.

The three victims—Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha—were between the ages of 19 and 23. All three were shot in the head and pronounced dead by authorities at the scene.

Student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel reports that Barakat was studying at UNC’s School of Dentistry; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, had planned to enroll in the same program in the fall. Abu-Salha’s sister, Rezan, was attending North Carolina State University, studying architecture and environmental design.

Hicks turned himself in to law enforcement officials shortly after the shooting. He is being charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

The incident immediately sparked a firestorm on social media. People quickly began using the Twitter hashtag #ChapelHillShooting to complain about perceived double standards for violent crimes committed by Muslims versus those committed against Muslims.

Others used the hashtag to compare how the media was slower to react to this shooting—which many suspected to be a hate crime directed at the victims due to their faith—than the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year.

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Shortly after the shooting, a Facebook page was created to express love for the victims and solidarity with their families.

“It sorrows us all to see what has happened here today,” reads one post on the page. “Please rely on each other and remember these beautiful souls in your happy thoughts. Their faith meant a lot to them, and it is in fact what helps us all feel at peace with the tragedy of their murder.”

People also used the Twitter hashtag to pay homage to the young people who were killed.

Photo via Caroline Culler/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

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*First Published: Feb 11, 2015, 8:39 am CST