Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Blog
AAI joined a coalition of 150 civil rights organizations in a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Eric Holder imploring him to direct the FBI to open a federal hate crime investigation into the tragic slaying of three Arab American Muslims, Deah Shaddy Barakat (23 years old), Yusor Mohammad Abu Salha (21 years old), and Razan Mohammad Abu Salha (19 years old), who were brutally murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on February 10th.
With hate crimes targeting Arab Americans and American Muslims on the rise, we expect our country’s highest elected officials and the Department of Justice to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to justice. Spearheaded by Muslim Advocates, the letter to AG Holder expresses the need for federal law enforcement to conduct a full investigation into the senseless crime.
AAI is not only troubled by those who are detracting from the seriousness of this crime by insisting that this was simply one neighbor attacking another, but we are more deeply troubled by the remarks of local law enforcement officials. Of note is the Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, who stated the perpetrator appears to have been "motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.” Another concern is U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina Ripley Rand statement that, “The events … are not part of a targeting campaign against Muslims in North Carolina. [There is] no information this is part of an organized event against Muslims. This appears, at this point, to be an isolated incident.” What might have been intended to calm nerves regrettably minimizes the insidiousness of bigotry, whether it manifests in one single hate crime or is connected to a larger campaign.
The only correct course of action is to open a federal hate crimes investigation into the murder of the three beautiful lives that we lost this week. By opening a hate crime investigation, the Department of Justice will be sending a clear and powerful message that violence against our community has no place in this country, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.