Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

On Chapel Hill #MuslimLivesMatter

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 were murdered. They were executed in their home. Shot in the head. Their deaths are an absolute tragedy. Yes, it was a hate crime. But this is not the same hate that we’ve been taught about. This is not the typical “American Sniper” mentality. This is not the typical “conservative/republican/christian” agenda that “all islam is evil”.

I’ve seen posts accusing the shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, of being a white supremacist, and I haven’t found any evidence of that (so far).

What I have found (on his facebook page), is an militant atheist who openly supported gay rights, who openly condemned religion (Christianity and Islam alike), who shared posts by Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervias, George Takei, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Chris Rock. Who had a picture of Obama fist-bumping a janitor as his cover photo.

Seemingly a strong liberal with an anti-religious agenda. Not unlike Bill Mahr, or Sam Harris.

What is my point you may be asking? My point is that godlessness is not the answer. My point is that someone who claims to be a liberal, or who supports “equality” can still be a terrorist. My point is that hatred destroys reason, and even more so — it destroys compassion. It destroys the very thing that makes us human, and what makes others human.

Barakat and Abu-Salha were married Dec. 27, according to the Raleigh News-Observer. She had attended high school in Raleigh, and was on track to graduate from college in December with a degree in biological sciences, according to a North Carolina State University news release. Her sister was studying architecture and environmental design at North Carolina State.

Barakat, a Syrian-American, had majored in business administration and management at North Carolina State before enrolling at UNC-Chapel Hill two years ago to pursue his doctorate in dental surgery. He and his new wife worked for a charity that provided dental care to people in the United States and the Middle East. A Facebook post by Barakat dated Jan. 29 detailed a Durham project that provided dental supplies and food to homeless people this year.

He and 10 other dental students at the school were scheduled to go to Turkey in the summer, where they were going to treat Syrian refugees as part of a project organized by UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and the Syrian-American Medical Society. Hours after the murders, more than $8,200 had been donated to the online campaign for “Project: Refugee Smiles.”

These were beautiful, remarkable, giving, loving people that were murdered. And for what? The way they dressed? For what they believed? For the color of their skin?

It certainly wasn’t over a parking space.

This violence is beyond senseless. It is terrorism. It is a hate crime. It is wrong. Militant anything is wrong. Even atheism.

We have to be accepting of others, loving, and forgiving. Of course, people still need to be held accountable for their actions. There needs to be justice. But there also needs to be healing.

As a former NC State student I can say that my (wolf) pack was attacked. Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were part of my academic family. They were a part of my community. And while I never met them— I will remember them. I will honor their memory the best way I know how. By modeling how they lived. By giving. By serving. By helping refugees. By making a difference. By loving others. By combatting hatred. By combatting anything that is militant.

That is their legacy.

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