Current Affairs

Chapel Hill Shooting: Charlie Hebdo version 2…or not?

Less than twenty-four hours ago, three young Muslims were shot dead in their home, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Since then, the only major news outlet to have covered the killings (at time of writing) is The Independent, who only did so in the last few hours. Just over a month ago, twelve people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the response to which was unforgettable. Let’s compare the two shootings, the reactions to those shootings, and see where the double standards of big media outlets lie. When the incident is being reported, why it is being downplayed as a mere unfortunate event that sometimes occur.

Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha were newlyweds. Deah was a dental student at UNC who worked for a charity which gives dental care to Palestinian refugees and children. He was a dreamer and an inspirational individual. One of his tweets reads “I have a dream one day, to have a unified and structured community. Have a voice in our society and support the youth with their projects.”
Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha were newlyweds. Deah was a dental student at UNC who worked for a charity which gives dental care to Palestinian refugees and children. He was a dreamer and an inspirational individual. One of his tweets reads “I have a dream one day, to have a unified and structured community. Have a voice in our society and support the youth with their projects.”

When two armed men killed twelve people in Paris, they instantly received worldwide condemnation, top coverage from every big media outlet, Paris was on full alert, and 10,000 troops were deployed to find the killers. Thousands upon thousands poured into the iconic squares across France to hold vigils for the victims, and in Paris, they were joined by many world leaders. Vigils were also held in every major capital across Europe, including London, Berlin, Madrid and Moscow. There isn’t a shred of this reaction in regards to the Chapel Hill shootings. Yes, the suspected shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, was caught immediately, but there have been no moves by the police or any security forces to protect other Muslims in the area. There has barely been a trickle of coverage from large news outlets, and when it has been covered, the headline has barely been significant. After the Charlie Hebdo Shootings, Muslims in France came under attack continuously. A report from Jon Stone of The Independent said “Twenty-six mosques around France have been subject to attack by firebombs, gunfire, pig heads, and grenades as Muslims are targeted with violence in the wake of the Paris attacks.” Did the global community stand by them while they were terrorized, as they did with Charlie Hebdo? Absolutely not.

Many on social media websites have argued that since the Charlie Hebdo shootings were carried out by extremist Muslims that were angered by Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, this is a different case. Is it? According to Adam Withnall of The Independent, Craig Stephen Hicks “described himself as anti-theist and criticised all religions online”. “Hicks’ pictures largely consist of images with text mocking religion and supporting Atheism”, and include a picture of his 38 revolver. Despite him describing himself as anti-theist, and is clearly an outspoken Atheist, you will struggle to see Atheists being targeted as a community and being made to feel guilty for his crime.

Razan (right), sister of Yosur, was a cheerful second year student at the University of North Carolina, studying her Architecture and Environmental Design degree.
Razan (right), sister of Yosur, was a cheerful second year student at the University of North Carolina, studying her Architecture and Environmental Design degree.

This begs the question, why the double standards? Dare I say it is because their deaths cannot be used to demonise Islam any further? Or because they are of no use, politically, to anybody in the West for their proxy wars in the East? Perhaps it is because they aren’t white. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s all three reasons combined. Islamaphobia is on the rise, and today it is as easy to see as the sun. The mainstream media in the West have always been known for their hypocrisy when reporting crimes against Muslims, but they have truly outdone themselves this time.

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1 Comment

  1. Well, there are some key differences you don’t acknowledge.

    1.) The Charlie Hebdo attacks were explicitly religious/political in their aims. The shooters basically said it themselves. The Chapel Hill shooting, while involving Muslim victims and an “angry atheist”, cannot be considered a politically or religiously motivated crime based on the information released so far. In fact, details indicate there were possibly personal factors at play. That’s very different from gunmen walking into press building and executing total strangers.

    2.) The media sensation of the Charlie Hebdo attacks was inherently a larger story BECAUSE the gunmen went loose for a period of time. You briefly touch on this, but then immediately dismiss it. French police HAD to mobilize because a threat was still present and the perpetrators had not been apprehended. That carries a very real risk of further violence and standoffs. In Chapel Hill, the gunman came forward and is under arrest. There is no need to set up a cop watch to protect neighborhood Muslims, especially since there is CURRENTLY more evidence of the killer being a disgruntled nut than there is any indication of some local trend of murdering Muslims.

    3.) I’m sure some people will target or criticize the “atheist community”, but to achieve what? Unlike Islam, there is no shared belief system between atheists other than a disbelief in deities. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any vocal element of today’s atheism that supports murdering innocents, religious or otherwise. Sadly, this is not the same for modern Islam.

    I absolutely agree that Western media is prone to sensationalized reporting on crimes committed by Muslims, and it needs to be called out when it happens. But this recent situation is more apples to oranges than you admit, and I would hold off using it any argument about MSM double standards until more is known.

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