On February the 11, 3 US Muslims were gunned down in cold, Islamophobic outrage by a white terrorist. Where was the mainstream media coverage? It is an absolute shame that the same media houses who were fervently reporting the Charlie Hebdo attacks just a couple of weeks ago, claiming to be heroes of all kinds of freedoms and democracy, were absolutely silent when Muslims were on the other end of the gun.

An outspoken white atheist, Craig Stephen Hicks, murdered three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More than 10 hours after the murders, when some news outlets decided to cover the story, it was reported that police had said the crime may have grown out of a dispute over “parking”. Yusor Mohammad, Deah Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were not killed execution style over a parking lot. Their father, Abu-Salha, reports what his daughter Yusor (who wears a headscarf) had said regarding Hicks just a week before he put a bullet in each of their heads: “Honest to God, he hates us for what we are and how we look.” The youngsters had told their families that they had a “hateful neighbour” who would talk to them with “his gun in his belt”. We do know, without a doubt, that had Hicks been a Muslim and his victims atheists, none would be waiting for all the facts to come in before declaring him a terrorist. There would be the usual calls for other Muslims to condemn the killings. Violence perpetrated by Muslims is always seen as part of a global terrorism, whereas white men like Hicks are usually seen as isolated psychopaths.

But how true is this? Hicks fits the profile of the most common type of American terrorist- a white man with a weapon and a grudge. How many of us know that more than 90% of mass shootings in the US are committed by white men between the ages of 15 and 46. According to the latest FBI statistics, there were more than 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2013. Mosques and Islamic centers have been firebombed and vandalized; seven mosques were attacked during Ramadan alone in 2012. Alia Ansari, a 37 year old mother of 6, was shot point blank in the head in what was revealed to have religious hate behind the motive of her killing. Another young victim of Islamophobia, 15 year old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein was killed by a deliberate hit and run for being Muslim in December last year. These, just like the murders of Yusor, her husband, Deah, and her sister, Razan will never make our headlines, nor will we see world leaders mobilise themselves within hours to safeguard the freedom to religion and life.

Loss of life is always regrettable. But there are no separate standards for different people. When 3 Muslim students who, evident from their social networking sites were committed to humanitarian work and only ever having a good word to say, are murdered in cold blood the very least I’d like to see is some news coverage. Ideally, I want to see protests. I want to see marches. I want to see the same outrage expressed in France. Because Muslim lives matter too.

To quote Stephen Lendman: “Post 9/11, Muslims were targeted for political advantage. Post-Boston Bombings, America’s war on Islam continues. Muslims are ‘war on terror’ scapegoats. It is the wrong time to be Muslims in America. They are persecuted for their faith and ethnicity. At times it is for the activism, prominence, and/or charity”.

Aayesha Soni

Aayesha J Soni is a medical doctor, qualified from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her passion is combatting injustice globally, and her particular focus of challenging the growing trend of Islamophobia is done through her various written and oral critiques.