February 21, 2015

SDS Demands Justice for Muslim Youth Murdered in Chapel Hill

Students for a Democratic Society demands justice for Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan Abu Salha and Deah Shabby Barakat who were murdered in Chapel Hill, NC by Craig Stephen Hicks.

Hicks murdered Deah Shabby Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, in an execution style murder during a home invasion on February 10. Reports indicate at least 8 shots were fired and injuries to Barakat indicate he had been brutally beaten. All three victims were shot in the head.

Razan and Yusor Abu-Salha are Palestinian. Their father was born in Jordan, but his family lived in Jaffa before being driven out by Zionist militias in the 1948 Nakba. Their mother is from al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank.

Barakat and the sisters, all three university students, were outspoken advocates for the rights of Palestinians. The media has largely ignored their background, avoiding that they are amongst the 700,000 Palestinians displaced in 1948 and the 7 million Palestinians who live as refugees around the world today.

According to neighbors of Craig Stephen Hicks was often hostile, threatening and aggressive, and much like the vigilante killer George Zimmerman, had appointed himself as a "watchman" of the community. He often brandished a gun in encounters with neighbors.

Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha had recently married and moved into the neighborhood and reported many encounters with Hicks including many while he was brandishing a gun.

After 9/11, “terrorism” became a household word in the United States. The word “terrorist” was immediately loaded with racist baggage. The stereotypical profile of a “terrorist” became associated with Arabs and Muslims, saturated with stereotypes of racism and Islamohpobia. This profile of a “terrorist” ignores that right-wing extremism has been the source of most American terrorism both before or since 9/11.
Right-wing extremism in the form of white supremacy, anti-abortion extremists or anti-government militias is the greatest threats of domestic terrorism in the United States today. Organizations like the anti-abortion terrorists of the Army of God, or the white supremacists of the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation, or the Jewish Defense League have both recently and historically terrorized the United States. These are the terrorists we must be vigilant against today. Homegrown terrorists that are symptomatic of rightwing extremism and violence of American racism and imperialism at home and abroad.
While the United States government and media stays silent on the brutal murder of three Muslim Americans, the Middle East has overwhelmingly condemned it and called it precisely what it is, an act of violent, racist, Islamophobic terrorism. The governments of Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan immediately condemned the murders as an act of terrorism. In Gaza there were protests and demonstrations demanded justice.

It is no surprise that the United States government refuses to condemn these murders as an anti-Muslim hate crime. The US has a long history of aggression and violence toward Arab and Muslim-majority countries. The US used islamophobia and racism to justify the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, support for the Zionist occupation of Palestine, drone strikes in Yemen, and the intervention and bombing of Syria.

The US government also engages in bigoted attacks on Arab-Americans and Muslims at home, who are targeted by the FBI for imprisonment and deportation. The recent trial of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian community activist from Chicago, demonstrates how anti-Arab racism is used to reach unjust conviction. Rasmea's sentencing is on March 12th in Detroit, where she faces up to ten years of prison and deportation. It is the same system that is persecuting Rasmea which is responsible for the massacre at Chapel Hill.
Students for a Democratic Society is resolved that these murders will not be overlooked and ignored. We say no to racism, no to Islamophobia and no to the dehumanizing treatment of Muslims and all oppressed people. We stand opposed to right-wing extremism and its violent terrorism. We demand justice for Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha and Deah Shabby Barakat and the countless victims of the systematic violence of America at home and abroad today.