On February 10, 2015, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were horrifically killed at their condominium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina by their neighbor over what he claimed was a parking dispute but to many, was clearly a hate crime. What is not disputed is that these young people were much loved and respected, and that a year later, the local Muslim community is still feeling the reverberations from their tragic and senseless deaths.
Since the shootings, many local Muslims have chosen to honor the victims by becoming more visible in their community. Mohammad Moussa, who knew Barakat from college, has performed a spoken word piece called “Shattered Glass” which pays tribute to his friends. Family and friends are also planning to build an Islamic community center to teach people about Islam.
And one local mother and daughter, Summer and Marjan Hamad, have decided to wear the hijab for the first time. “For me, as a mom, I wanted to show you that it’s OK to be Muslim,” says Mrs. Hamad. “[The shootings] happened, but it can’t stop us from being who we are, from practicing our faith…because it’s beautiful, it’s peaceful.”
Omid Safi, professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University and a friend of the victims’ families, says, “We’ve opened our homes, we’ve opened our hearts, we’ve stood out: proud as Americans, proud as human beings, proud as Muslims.”