Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were murdered in their Chapel Hill home in February 2015. One of Barakat’s last Facebook posts showed a picture of him and Yusor Abu-Salha giving out dental supplies and food to the homeless in downtown Durham.
Barakat’s long-time friend Shadi Sadi is honoring his friend and the spirit of giving that that last Facebook post so clearly represented with a sixth annual Interfaith Food Drive Saturday. Sadi and his wife Amani Asad said Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha's philanthropic efforts inspired them to start a food drive in their honor. The Interfaith Food Drive is collecting food and money donations for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina (the Food Bank).
Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were Muslim, and Sadi said they used the teachings of their faith to help others in their everyday lives.
“Our faith, in general, teaches us that we should be giving to those who are less fortunate,” Sadi said. “If you look at Deah, Yusor and Razan, that’s what they were doing. They were actually living out their faith.”
Sadi said that in 2015, the food that the Interfaith Food Drive collected translated to around 21,000 meals. With their last drive in 2019, this number grew to over 92,000 meals.
“This is something we never could have imagined,” Sadi said. “We are getting farther away from the tragedy, but every year more people want to join us. The more that people are learning about the drive, the more they want to be a part of it.”
The food drive also has an online virtual drive, where they have already met more than 90 percent of their donation goal. They are also collecting donations through a number of partner organizations, including the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, where Barakat studied as a graduate student, and UNC’s Muslim Students Association (MSA).
UNC first-year and MSA freshman representative Osamah Atieh said Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were family friends of his. He said he supports the cause behind the food drive and said it encourages people to talk about religious divisions.
“I feel like the cause behind the drive is important," Atieh said. "At the end of the day, we’re all human. Even with different religious perspectives, nothing ever justifies killing another human. The idea of coming together to support a cause that talks about how this hate crime has occurred is important, especially with existing islamophobia today.”