White Extremist: Craig Stephen Hicks And His Muslim Victims

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The face of pure hate--Craig Stephen Hicks

More than 5,000 mourners reported attended the funeral of the three Muslims brutally murdered by a gunman in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

While the turnout speaks loudly in rejecting any support for the bigotry behind the killings it's disturbing that there was actually some show of support on social media for the killer, Craig Stephen Hicks.

The killer murdered Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, as well as her 19-year-old sister, Razan Abu-Salha.

The self-professed atheist's own social media postings reportedly were critical of people of faith.

The crime brought national and international condemnation, including from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The police in North Carolina initially focused on supposed-dispute over parking at a condo complex near UNC. That could've only be a trigger for the deeper hatred that the killer harbored towards his Muslim victims.

The FBI correctly launched an investigation to determine whether there was religious motive behind the killings.

President Obama in a written statement Friday also condemned the killings. The President knows extremist groups like ISIS thrive on such hateful murders to recruit more supporters.

President Obama said: "Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated.  No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.  Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones.  As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family.  Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours.

'Growing up in America has been such a blessing,' Yusor said recently.  'It doesn’t matter where you come from.  There’s so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions – but here, we’re all one.'"

Barakat and his wife Yusor were known for humanitarian work, traveling to Turkey and Palestine where Barakat, a dental student, provided free dental care to people. They reportedly also offered such care to homeless people near their home at the university.

Yusor, who wore a hijab over her hair, epitomized optimism. Yet she had reportedly also earlier expressed to her father concern about Stephen Hicks' "hatred" towards them.

Sadly, too many Americans associate innocent Muslims with the violent extremism of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram leading to increasing prejudice towards Muslims generally.

This would be tantamount to holding that the KKK and its hatred is also representative of the majority of White Americans.

Just in January, plans to let Muslims make their Friday calls for prayer from Duke University's chapel's bell tower was cancelled when there was opposition from some groups.

Reportedly a survey by LifeWay Research, a non-profit Christian research group, found 45% of Protestant clergy and 27% of Americans believe ISIS's position is representative of true Islam.

Some Muslim organizations also report an increase in anti-Muslim comments on social media following release of the movie American sniper, a box-office hit.

The killings also come shortly after President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast observed that it was unfair to associate all Muslims with the atrocities of extremist groups and reminded the public how major atrocities were once conducted, in the name of Christianity -- including during the Inquisition and in the period of enslavement of African peoples.

Stephen Hicks hateful murders also comes at a time when the U.S. and its Western and some Middle Eastern allies are increasing its confrontation with ISIS to prevent the extremist group from increasing its territorial claim and influence in Syria and Iraq.

That's why the Chapel Hill murders are extremely volatile; especially if it inspires copy cat killings around the country and provokes counter-killings.

Hopefully the Republicans are also paying close attention. The GOP, with its newly-won majority in both houses of Congress, recently decided to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security by the end of this month.

Stephen Hicks' murder rampage must be widely denounced and repudiated.


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