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Anti-Muslim bigotry kills three Arab American students in Chapel Hill

Commentary by Jared Hamil |
February 13, 2015
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Around the world, people are outraged at the murders of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The three, all Arab Americans, were gunned down in their own home by a neighbor, a middle-aged white man who was openly anti-Muslim. The immediate response from the corporate news media was to report about a parking dispute and to down play anti-Muslim hatred as the killer’s motive.

This happened in the U.S. The U.S. is no friend to Arab countries, or Arab Americans. The U.S. has a long history of war, occupations and bombings in Arab and predominantly Muslim countries, from backing the occupation of Palestine, to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the current bombing of Syria, to drone strikes in Yemen. The rich and powerful U.S. ruling class wants an empire of oppression and exploitation.

While the U.S. government creates conflict and endless wars overseas, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice work overtime, spending billions to set up and jail Arab-Americans and Muslims. The government wants to make examples out of people, to create fear in society, and thus promote U.S. wars and occupations.

This is the case for Palestinian American Rasmea Odeh in Chicago. Like tens of thousands of others in occupied Palestine, she was locked up and tortured at an Israeli military prison. She later moved to the U.S. and built her life around community activism, winning awards for her service over 20 years. Like many others, she was targeted because she spoke out against U.S. wars and U.S. funding of Israel. Now Rasmea Odeh, at the age of 68, is threatened in U.S. court with 10 years in prison, fines and deportation. She faces sentencing in Detroit on March 12.

While the corporate media attempt to confuse the issue with talks of parking spaces, atheism and mental illness, we know why a white American gunned down peaceful Muslim students in a college town. The people in the U.S. are force-fed the ideas of Wall Street and the ruling class. Those who promote and conduct U.S wars are the same ones who teach people to fear and then hate Arab people and Muslims. It is also no surprise that these murders happened right after the release of the film, American Sniper. The film glorifies murder and the occupation of Iraq. It is also the widest released rated-R film of all time – it's been put in more theaters than any other film. Hollywood films and the corporate media promote ideas that incite violence and discrimination. They fuel and justify the actions of U.S. imperialism.

The murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill is a hate crime. We must unite against this. We must unite against the U.S. interventions in Syria and Iraq. We must unite against state repression of Arab Americans, Muslims and anti-war activists. Together, by building a mass movement, we can stop racist vigilante violence, police murders, war and repression.

Along with their families and the 5000 who attended their funerals, we mourn the deaths of Deah Shaddy Barakat, a 23-year-old University of North Carolina dental student married to 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad, and also her 19-year-old sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.