Muslim lives matter: Atheists and humanists are condemning the senseless shooting of three American Muslims near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by a self-described atheist.
According to reports, last night 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks went to an apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shooting and killing three American Muslims – 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 – before turning himself in to the police.
The Salha sisters were students at North Carolina State University and Barakat was a doctoral student in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry, according to local media.
Hicks has been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
By all accounts the three victims were bright, generous, hard working, wonderful people.
Preliminary police reports indicate the shooting was the result of a long running dispute over a parking space. Others are calling the murders a hate crime and an act of terrorism against the Muslim community.
The shooting of the three Muslims has been widely condemned across social media. Echoing the sentiments of many, Richard Dawkins tweeted:
How could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?
The following is a collection of statements from atheists and humanist groups concerning the tragedy at Chapel Hill –
Statement from American Humanist Association via Facebook:
Our thoughts are with the victims and families of this terrible tragedy, and we strongly denounce any violence against anyone, no matter what beliefs they hold. We’re deeply disturbed that this person identified as an atheist, and he must be brought to justice. #ChapelHillShooting
Statement from Center for Inquiry:
Everyone at the Center for Inquiry is horrified and deeply saddened by the senseless murders of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These three young people were clearly full of life, love, and a genuine desire to use their talents and intelligence to help others. The world is a little bleaker today for their loss. Our sincere condolences go out to their families, friends, and the Chapel Hill community.
“We hope that what ultimately emerges from this tragedy is a deeper understanding between people of all faiths and no faith that each one of us has the capacity to do good, to help in our own small ways to make the world a better place,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Despite our differences in beliefs, we are all part of the global human community, and we are all responsible for each other.”
Added Lindsay, “The alleged killer is reported to have promoted ‘atheism’ in some of his writings as a ‘solution’ to world crises, but there is absolutely nothing about the lack of belief in a god that supports the murder of innocent people, or doing any kind of harm to anyone. As secular humanists, we at CFI will continue to work toward fostering a free and enlightened world for everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe.”
Statement from American Atheists:
The staff of American Atheists is saddened by the deaths of Yusor Mohammad, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat, who were killed on Tuesday, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We mourn with their families, their friends, and with everyone touched by this tragedy.
“American Atheists condemns violence in any form, including violence against people of faith,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “No person should be a victim of violence because of their religion. Anyone who would attack a person because of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, attacks the very foundation of freedom. We must work to understand one another as people and recognize that our differences are an important part of our shared humanity.”
Statement from Freedom From Religion Foundation:
We are very sorry to see someone identified as nonreligious in the news for a violent crime. Such an action is almost unheard of in the freethought world. Mental instability is no respecter of persons, and happens in all walks of life.
No one should be targeted because of their religion or irreligion. We deplore all gun violence, which unfortunately occurs on a daily basis in the United States.
Our heartfelt condolences to the grieving families of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, of Chapel Hill, N.C., and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19.
Whatever the motive, the shooting of the three unarmed American Muslims cannot be justified, and must be condemned by all reasonable people as a cowardly and despicable act that should be punished to the full extent of the law.