‘We're all one, one culture’: Chapel Hill victim Yusur Abu Salha, prior to her shooting

Alia Soliman , Saturday 14 Feb 2015

The young Muslim student praised the diversity of American society last summer, as part of a public radio oral history project

A photo of Deah Barakat and his wife Yusor Abu-Salha from Baraka's Face Book Account.

Before she was shot dead with her husband and sister on Tuesday, in what appears to be a hate crime in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the United States, young Muslim student Yusur Mohammad Abu Salha had said that she felt like she belonged to American society.

"Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” she said last summer, as part of US radio broadcaster NPR’s StoryCorps oral history project. “And although in some ways I do stand out, such as the hijab I wear on my head, the head covering, there are still so many ways that I feel so embedded in the fabric that is, you know, our culture.”

“And that's the beautiful thing here, is that it doesn't matter where you come from. There's so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions — but here we're all one, one culture. And it's beautiful to see people of different areas interacting, and being family. Being, you know, one community."

Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, was found dead in her Chapel Hill apartment on Tuesday evening, along with her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, and her husband Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23. 

Their alleged killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, turned himself into the police and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Police have said they believe the incident was over an ongoing dispute over a parking space, while family and friends of the victims have called it a “hate crime”.

A preliminary investigation has revealed that Hicks posses a huge number of weapons, live ammunition and dozens of weapon magazines, the AP reported on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama on Friday condemned the "brutal and outrageous" murders of the three Muslim students, amid criticism of his silence for a few days after the attack, notably from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since the killings, many have condemned the US media’s use of the words “man” and “shooter” in covering the story. They have demanded that they use the word “terrorist”, as in the case of last January’s Charlie Hebdo attack, in which the shooters claimed to be Muslims.

Hashtags #JeSuisDeahBarakat, #JeSuisRazanAbuSalha and #JeSuisYosurAbuSalha have taken centre stage on twitter, as many draw comparisons to the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie that went viral after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January.

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