This is why American Muslims are angered by the Chapel Hill shooting

Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan were gunned down in their North Carolina home – but the incident initially received little mainstream media coverage

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Last night around 2,000 people attended a candlelit vigil for the three young Muslim victims of Tuesday night’s Chapel Hill shooting. But the show of sadness and support for the families involved was minor compared to the outpouring of emotion from hundreds and thousands online.

The parents of Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, have issued a joint statement calling on police to investigate their murders as a hate crime, while the suspect’s wife has claimed “this had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith”.

Chapel Hill police Chief Chris Blue said an investigation into “the possibility that this was hate-motivated” was ongoing, and a hearing to determine probable cause has been scheduled for 4 March.

But regardless of speculation about the motive of the killer – and suspect Craig Stephen Hicks’ portrayal of himself as a “gun toting”, anti-religious atheist on Facebook – what has really angered people online has been the lack of attention given to the “execution style” deaths of three socially- and charitably-active young people.

Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), told The Independent it would all have been different if the victims had not been Muslims.

He said: “One hundred per cent this would have been covered differently if the roles were reversed.”

Ayoub Ouederni, the vice president of the UNC Muslim Student Association, acknowledging “increasing Islamophobia” across the US but insisted there had been no evidence of it in Chapel Hill.

He told the Washington Post: “I don’t think it plays a significant part in our relations. They are not us, and we are not them. We lost Muslims last night, but we also lost three great Americans.”

Writing in this paper yesterday, Sabbiyah Pervez said coverage of the incident “proves the West’s dehumanisation of Muslims is almost complete”.

“The more you paint a community as foreign, as a threat, as outsiders, you risk dehumanising them. And this has happened to such an extent that when they are murdered, there is no desire to give them the same sort of attention we would otherwise give all victims of terror.”

And as the #MuslimLivesMatter campaign reemerged on social media, their sentiments were echoed many thousands of times over:

Deah Barakat and his wife were active volunteers with both local and overseas charities, and activists have called on the public to donate in their honour here.