Murdered for being Muslim, and the news is unfazed

The killing of young, promising college students would normally be a pretty big story.  Shootings on or near campuses are usually a hot topic for cable news outlets.  The horrific execution of three young Americans would ordinarily dominate our televisions.

This morning I woke up to the tragic news of the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salah, 21, and Razan Abu-Salah, 19.  Deah and Yusor were recently married, and Razan was Yusor’s sister.  They were a family.  And they were killed by a white man, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks.  I learned about their killings through a text message as I was just waking up.  Then I did what I always do each morning.  I turned on CNN.

CNN would give me more info, right?  It had to be the top story, right?  This must be hot news, right?

As I switched to CNN, I felt a weird sense of anticipation.  Arabs and Muslims are always in the news, but not like this.  I was wondering how CNN might cover this.  Would they call it terrorism? Would they profile the victims?  Would they bring on experts?

It didn’t take me long to see exactly what CNN would give me… Nothing.  That’s right. I watched CNN for an hour.  I saw Brian Williams.  I saw Jon Stewart.  I saw Kayla Mueller.  But I didn’t see Deah, Yusor, and Razan.  I turned to MSNBC.  Deah, Yusor, and Razan weren’t there either.  But Bobby Kristina was.  And so was snow in Boston.  In a desperate, last-ditch effort, I even turned to Fox News.  Maybe, in some weird twist, I would see Deah, Yusor, and Razan there.  Nope.  All I saw was “Breaking News” coverage of ISIS.  I should have known better.

Let’s be clear on what occurred.  A middle-aged white man shot three young American Muslims.  In their apartment.  In the head.  Deah was a student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry.  His wife Yusor was to join him there soon.  Razan was a student at North Carolina State University.  And CNN was unfazed.

According to Hick’s Facebook page, he once wrote, “When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I.”  It seems from early news report that Hicks was anti-religion.  And he found convenient targets in his Muslim neighbors, two of whom, Yusor and Razan, wore Islamic headscarfs.

Some will undoubtedly argue that this murder had nothing to do with the victim’s particular religion, as Hicks apparently hated all faiths.  You can engage in that nonsense if you wish.  But if his neighbors were young religious Christian students, would he have executed them in this manner?  My mind says, “I don’t know.”  My heart gives a different answer.

Amazingly, however, I am more disgusted by the news coverage (or lack of it) than I am by the murder itself.  It really is a sort of sick testament to the state of American media that CNN, MSNBC, and Fox could anger and insult me this morning more than Hicks himself could.

The media has disregarded Deah, Yusor, and Razan.  There is no argument here.  And in a world where these young American Muslims’ lives are bypassed by our television news outlets, I am left to ponder.

I imagine what sort of wall-to-wall news coverage we would see if white victims were gunned down around a college campus.  I imagine how much I would be hearing the word “terrorism” if a middle-aged Arab man murdered three young white Americans in their own home.  I imagine how many “experts” would be dominating CNN right now if Hicks last name were Mohammad and Yusor’s last name were Hicks.

We have seen what happens on American news channels when Muslim criminals target non-Muslim victims in France, Australia, and Israel.  And now, we get to see what happens on American news channels when non-Muslim criminals target Muslim victims right here.

It is now the middle of the day, and CNN is starting to give the story a few minutes of coverage.  I’m not seeing condemnations, I’m not seeing “experts,” and I’m not seeing profiles of Deah, Yusor, and Razan.  I’m not seeing any of that.  Instead, CNN is telling me that they might have been killed because they were Muslim.  But they also might have been killed over a parking spot… a parking spot.  And you wonder why we get a little angry at the news every now and then.

After a few minutes of coverage about the execution of three young American Muslims, CNN moves on.  The next story? Chris Kyle…

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. I too have been watching, waiting for fitting coverage of this horrific slaughter of three innocents. Yes, a murder of these proportions, snuffing out the lives of three university students, two just married in December, beautiful young beings, torn from their loved ones, stolen from the world, deprived of making great contributions to mankind, as witnessed by their work with the needy, sharing their knowledge of dentistry to improve health. CNN did provide some coverage this afternoon, interviewing a friend of the dead young students. However, it was also emphasized that the deranged murderer was not at all anti-Muslim, as he despised all religions, ergo, he is innocent of a hate crime. His wife was also given air time, praising his goodness and love of equality for every one. Well, if it wasn’t hate that motivated such a brutal response, then what was it? Equality for all? Would he have killed all three so mercilessly had they not been Muslim? I lean towards a negative response. Shame on this murderer, shame on the media for trying to cover up what is a flagrant crime against three innocents because they were Muslim. I am sure that Chris Kyle would have approved.

  2. I was at home when I hear the news on the radio.
    I live in the Netherlands and I was realy shockt. I turn on the t.v. To see CNN because this was breaking news! And nothing happend. I turn other stations on and nothing happend. And I hear it onze time only in the Netherlands. This is maken me very sad. Because they are moslims?? SHAME ON YOU MEDIA!!!

  3. it wasn’t on CNN, true, but it UK Independent wrote about it, Washington Times,NY Times, Daily Mail, Telegraph, France 24, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, Yahoo, Pravda, USA Today, ABC News… So, the world does know, and the media hasn’t disregarded those three innocent people.
    It was a terrible crime, totally unnecessary… The three killed only for being Muslims.
    I can understand your frustration, even your anger. But what you are doing here is not right reasoning. Firstly, because you are reacting emotionally. Which would be normal if you would be discussing this race-based hate crime in a coffee shop with your neighbors.But you are being read by people, obviously from all over the world (I’m from Croatia)… You have a responsibility.
    Some young hot-blooded Muslima are reading you, and maybe you will make them executioners. Just like ISIS monsters has triggered this horrific one-man crusade war…

    Peace, bro!

    • You have the right idea.
      We must be the example of understanding for the world to see.
      Understanding doesnt condone their senseless deaths but it does allow us to respond in a healing way.
      Hate followed by more hate creates failure, a failure in self, in people, our beliefs, our nations and our world.
      Please try to understand rather than to be understood.
      Much Peace to you my friend

  4. Its in the Norwegian news. It’s in BBC as well. People are sharing and expressing outrage at twitter and facebook. If CNN manage to silence this, or giving the murderer’s views and wife disturbingly a lot of air time, its something seriously wrong with CNN.

  5. Amer, in the 1970s I was a foreign student in Indonesia under the government of President Suharto. It was an authoritarian rather than dictatorial government. People in Western countries assumed that the media in Indonesia at that time would be full of propaganda. It wasn’t. Most of the reporting was more or less factual but newspapers and national radio/television practised self censorship, leaving out or abbreviating material that didn’t suit the purposes of the regime. In the US and other Western countries now we see something that reminds me of that. Some things reported, some things not. Not by direction of the government necessarily, just a sense of what suits the purposes of the management.

  6. And in reference to today’s Nova Scotia arrests of a group who were planning to commit a mass shooting on Valentine’s Day, the following quote: “The police statement did not suggest a possible motive, but officers told a media briefing they would not characterise it as a “terrorist event”. “I would classify it as a group of individuals that had some beliefs and were willing to carry out violent acts against citizens, but there’s nothing in the investigation to classify it as a terrorist attack,” Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer Brian Brennan, told CBC News. In other words he doesn’t think they’re Muslims. A group of individuals that had some beliefs and were willing to carry out violent acts against citizens – if that isn’t terrorism what is?

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