It was an incident that shook Muslims around the world.
February 10th marked the 4 year anniversary of the Chapel Hill shooting, where three Muslims were brutally shot in cold blood by a man with a history of Islamophobic social media posts.
Deah Barakat was shot in the head and chest at the doorway of his home by his neighbour, who then proceeded to the kitchen to execute Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
It was an incident that shook Muslims around the world. Islamophobia had reared its ugly head, and its victims were three young, beautiful, promising Muslim-Americans.
It’s been four years since their brutal execution. May Allah (swt) grant Deah, Yusor and Razan the highest levels of jannah and the company of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Ameen. #OurThreeWinners pic.twitter.com/1XuyQeDvFb
— Ramon Mejía (@MejiaSouth) February 10, 2019
Yusur was getting ready to begin dental school, Razan was an artist, and Deah loved basketball. The trio were faithful, and helpful to the needy and their community. A campaign dubbed #OurThreeWinners in their name reflects the sentiment of the Muslim community toward their beautiful souls.
On the 4th anniversary of the shooting, Sheikh Omar Suleiman called for the Muslim community to extend their legacies, saying that while “the media moved on, and the hashtag stopped trending, and the politicians doubled down on their rhetoric; the families of these three beautiful people, with so much promise, were left with the irreversible damage this has done to their lives.”
#OurThreeWinners forever in our hearts. 4 years ago they were stolen from us. God willing, 400 years from now the goodness they left behind will still continue. https://t.co/Nf7Zp8c2JY pic.twitter.com/XjCDwSFFBz
— Omar Suleiman (@omarsuleiman504) February 10, 2019
Zahra Biloo, a civil rights lawyer based in San Jose, California, said:
Many of us remember exactly where we were when we got the tragic news about Deah, Razan, and Yusor, as well as the tears that followed. Their deaths though were not in vain, catapulting the reality of hate violence coupled with their legacies of service to national audiences.
Four years ago today, newlyweds Deah and Yusor, and Yusor's sister Razan were shot and killed in their home (the perpetrator has still not gone to trial) in Chapel Hill, NC.
May Allah grant them the highest levels of paradise and strengthen their families. #OurThreeWinners
— Heraa Hashmi (@caveheraa) February 10, 2019
A spoken word piece written by Nouri Sardar touched the Muslim community on Twitter. A verse dedicated to the memory of the three reminded us all of the loss:
They’d still be alive and they’d still be at school,
Still helping others, still playing basketball,
A promising young man and beautiful young girls,
Taken away from this world by a Trumped disciple.
The Our Three Winners foundation, set up in their name, raised $25,000 of its $30,000 target. The foundation is dedicated to programs that reduce hate and prejudice toward American Muslims and other marginalised communities.
Today as we mark the 4 year anniversary of the tragic murders of Deah, Yusor and Razan, #OurThreeWinners, let us commit to preventing further hate violence and raising awareness about implicit bias. Support here: https://t.co/ZwoBsZYS09 pic.twitter.com/g6Ze74aMru
— Dena Takruri (@Dena) February 10, 2019
Professor Khaled Beydoun, speaking on the Our Three Winners foundation, said, “Our Three Winners represent the indelible might of faith and perseverance, and how both of these can serve as tools to overcome the hate unleashed against not only Muslims, but all marginalised people.”
Perhaps most heartbreaking of all were the words of Suzanne Barakat herself, whose brother’s absence still leaves an unfillable gap in her life. In a Facebook post, she said, “Many assume that because I’m working, facing the cameras, putting a smile on my face, and trying to live a normal life, that I have indeed moved on beyond the trauma and loss, and that only anniversaries are my “bad days”… most don’t realize the frustrating chronicity of the trauma, the permanence of the unnecessary loss, the burden one feels on their support system, the never agains and forever ripple effects it will have on the rest of our lives.”
On her brother’s absence, she said:
I still frequently find myself searching frantically for my baby brother in my dreams, often times crying in his warm embrace, confused by why I miss him so much and why everyone else is saying he’s not alive… Only to wake up, heart pounding, tasting the harsh reality yet again, realizing that to this day four years later, my subconscious struggles to process and accept what has happened.
May we never forget.
You can support the Our Three Winners Foundation here.