ICNA Staff Writer, Feb 12, 2015. Raleigh, NC
In cities across the nation Muslims poured out in the hundreds to host vigils in memory of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. Masajid and Muslim organizations and student groups organized memorials in support from Los Angeles to Washington, DC.
The three individuals were horrifically murdered in their home, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Tuesday, allegedly by Craig Stephen Hicks who has been charged with three accounts of first-degree murder.
More than 5,500 mourners gathered for the funeral prayer, held at the athletic field close to the Islamic Center in West Raleigh. At a press conference held prior to the funeral, family members of the slain and community leaders, including representatives from the Islamic Circle of North America, the United States Council of Muslim Organization, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, the Muslim American Society, the Council on American Islamic relations, the Muslim Legal Fund of America, American Muslims for Palestine, the Islamic Society of North America, United Muslim Relief and Islamic Relief, held a press conference in which they urged law enforcement not to rule out religious hate as a motive.
Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of Yusor and Razan, said that he believes the murder is a hate crime and that it is imperative to be honest and acknowledge it for what it is. He said the matter is not one of revenge or punishment, but rather about the protection of every child of any religious, racial, ethnic or cultural background.
Community leaders issued the following joint statement: “These three young people were exemplary members of the community, contributing to various humanitarian causes, including helping provide free dental services to homeless people in the Triangle area, and working with international refugees. Our community is reeling from the loss of these three outstanding youth who positively impacted the lives of those around them. We are in a state of grief and shock.”
Abu-Salha asked mourners to celebrate the three students. To carry on their legacy of concern for others, ICNA Relief has announced the establishment of a food pantry serving Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill as a continuous charity on their behalf.
Additionally, ICNA Relief is collaborating with the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and Mercy for All Mankind to conduct a Dental Hygiene Kit Drive in memory of Deah, Yusor and Razan and their exemplary service in their community and to the less fortunate. The organizers hope to collect 500 travel Dental Kits to be distributed among the Boston areas homeless.
One of the last charitable actions the three engaged in was the distribution of dental kits in their area. Deah had been raising funds to provide dental services to Syrian refugees. In light of this, Helping Hand for Relief and Development has announced a dental clinic for Syrian refugees in Jordan in their name.