NBC News is reporting: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is launching a ‘preliminary inquiry’ into the killings of three people near the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tuesday – slayings that authorities say were carried out by a neighbor upset over parking.
“But the families of Deah Barakat, 23, a dentistry student at the university; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Abu-Salha, believe they may have been killed because they are Muslim … [by] Craig Stephen Hicks, a self-described ‘gun-toting’ atheist. …
“The funeral service was held [Thursday] on a field at North Carolina State University to accommodate the overflow crowd who came to mourn…”
KHALED BEYDOUN, NADIA EL-ZEIN TONOVA, kbeydoun at gmail.com, @KhaledBeydoun
Beydoun is an assistant professor of law at the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law. Nadia El-Zein Tonova is director of the National Network of Arab American Communities.
They wrote the piece “Why Muslim lives don’t matter,” which states: “Irrespective of what rallying cries, signs or adapted hashtags proclaim, Muslim lives in America don’t matter. The aftermath of the murder of the three American students in Chapel Hill, and the broader context that spurred it, reconfirms this brutal truth. …
“State-run programming targeting Muslims marks members of that demographic as presumptively suspicious. NSA surveillance and counter-extremism programming, PATRIOT and Suspicious Activity Reporting strategies, are shaped within government walls. But these policies also shape stereotypes and spur violence far beyond them.
“This comprehensive programming, which is both synchronised and expanding, is built upon age-old perceptions of Muslims as ‘enemy combatants,’ ‘national security risks,’ and ‘unassimilable.’
“Past laws that restricted the naturalisation of Muslims were built upon racist and Orientalist tropes. However, state policies that profile and persecute today are still based on these very baselines.
“In addition to enabling discriminatory state tactics, anti-Muslim laws and programming sanction widely held stereotypes of Muslims as violent and unruly, threatening and anti-American. By endorsing these stereotypes, this network of anti-Muslim laws and programming embolden private citizens, like Hicks, to take justice into their own hands.
“It would be a misnomer to single out anti-Muslim laws and policies as spurring Islamophobic and anti-Arab culture. Rather, it pronounces this already existing psychosis, which is magnified by slanted news coverage and cinematic misrepresentations, illustrated vividly in films such as American Sniper.”