Craig Stephen Hicks committed what is known in mainstream media as an act of terrorism. However, this term is reserved generally for Muslims who kill non Muslims and not the other way around. This explains why Hicks’ actions on Tuesday of killing 3 Muslims is generally referred to in the media as an act of murder and not terrorism.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina was the scene of the incident wherein Hicks shot and killed Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan, 19. Three young people cut down in their youth by a man who criticizes all religion on his Facebook page. Currently this isn’t even a federal case, meaning that the FBI and CIA are not involved. “This is not a federal investigation yet,” said Ripley Rand, the federal prosecutor for the middle district of North Carolina. On Wednesday, just hours after the killings, Rand added that there was no further evidence that there were any additional threats to Muslims. When was the last time there was a mass killing of non Muslim by a Muslim and there weren’t mass arrests of others in the community with an eye of suspicion that there wasn’t a larger plot? Just hours after some very Muslim looking people are shot execution style by an openly atheist person and a determination of this nature can be made? So quickly? “Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Hick’s wife Karen Hicks says that she doesn’t believe the incident was religiously motivated and feels it had to do with a dispute over parking spaces. “We were married for seven years and that is one thing that I do know about him,” Karen Hicks told reporters today. “He often champions on his Facebook page for the rights of many individuals — for same-sex marriages, abortion, race. He just believed — I know that’s just one of the things I know about him is that everyone is just equal.”
Many Muslim commentators have been vocal in saying that mainstream media has not done justice in their coverage of the act. They state that had Hicks been a Muslim and the three who had been killed been Christian or Jewish then there would have been a dragnet in the immediate Chapel Hill area and beyond to bring in “additional accomplices”. Hastily drawn up drafts would have been introduced for possible legislation, and, most of all, there would have been front page news coverage for many days. Are they right? Of course they are. However this sort of expectation says more about Muslims than it does about anyone else.
As a black man who grew up in America, I was always taught by my mother not to have others define your heroes and villains for you. My mother forbade us from going to school on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday years before it was a declared national holiday. “It’s a holiday for us, no matter what they think”, she would say. I wouldn’t realize until years later how valuable those lessons were. Therefore, we must be careful in trying too hard to gain acceptance by “mainstream” media. We needn’t wait to see if stories which are important to the Islamic world will be carried by major news sources, and be disappointed when they are glossed over. Muslims absolutely must develop their media outlets, not only to tell their side of it to Muslims, but to help non Muslims understand that there is even an additional side to be heard. Too often I speak to non Muslims about cases regarding Muslims and they walk away saying, “I didn’t know that.” It is important for both Muslims and non Muslims that “mainstream” media not be considered as the only author of the “who’s who and who isn’t” cheat sheet so we can decide who to like, who to call a terrorist, and who to simply dismiss as a deranged murderer. By simply labeling Craig Hicks as a murderer, that means society at large is not on trial. The larger American community that Hicks belongs to is not in need of “speaking out” and proving that they are the “good ones”. American news media need not soul search to see if their portrayal of Muslims contributes to this sort of hate crime.
Hicks was a terrorist by the media’s definition of terrorist but he escaped the title because he was not Muslim. For those who would read this article and dispute my findings I would ask you a question. You have 15 seconds to answer and you can’t use Google search engine to do it. Here is the question: Name for me one single person who was branded by the media as a terrorist that was not Muslim. 15…14…13…