Four years ago, Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot, in cold blood, inside their Chapel Hill apartment. Their neighbor, who had a history of Islamophobic social media posts, shot Deah in the head and chest in the doorway. He continued into the apartment, and then shot Yusor and Razan execution-style in the kitchen.
This wasn’t a dispute over a parking spot. Four years ago, Deah, Yusor and Razan were shot for being Muslim.
I remember that day so clearly — I think every Muslim in the U.S. did. I held a candle from a vigil in a Florida mosque, well before I even thought about applying to UNC, the monstrosity of the crime just beginning to settle in. We all the felt the shell-shocked horror. The utter lack of humanity. I still cannot fully grasp the experiences of the Muslim community in the Triangle area during this time.
As the news broke, the world learned more about them — that Yusor had just been accepted to UNC’s dental school, Razan was a gifted artist, Deah was a basketball fanatic. We learned about Deah and Yusor’s courtship and eventual marriage. We learned about their strong faith in Islam and involvement in community, their plans to travel to Turkey to provide dental care for Syrian refugees. The ummah, the global Muslim community, had lost their best.
“Our Three Winners” have deeply resonated with every Muslim-American, none more so than the Muslim community in the Triangle area. They are the ones who deserve to be celebrated, remembered and revered — they represent the best of our community, Muslim or not, and what we should aspire to be as citizens.