The grieving sister of one of three Muslim students killed in North Carolina this week blamed the “American Sniper” movie for contributing to the slaying, saying it is “open season against Islam” in America.
Deah Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her younger sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, were shot execution-style in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, and neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks was arrested on murder charges, multiple media outlets have reported.
While police are still investigating, they have said a dispute over a parking space may have sparked the killings. But echoing the beliefs of the victims’ family, Dr. Suzanne Barakat told CNN’s Jake Tapper that her brother’s death was a hate crime motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments.
“It has been tremendously heartwarming to see the outpouring of love and support” in the shootings’ wake, Barakat said, though she lamented what she called a pervasive climate of hate and fear in America.
“It’s currently an open season, a time where it is an open season against Islam, Muslims in Washington, Muslims in the general media, dehumanizing Muslims in movies like ‘American Sniper.’”
The film is based on the life of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who has been a frequent target of the left because he called Iraqi insurgents “savages,” referring only to those he encountered on the battlefield — a distinction critics often overlook.
Barakat was upset that her family members’ slaying was not immediately treated as a terrorist attack.
“Had roles been reversed and the man was Muslim, was of Arab descent, was of South Asian descent, this would have immediately been labeled an act of terror,” Barakat said. “I haven’t heard anyone use the term ‘terrorist’ here, but why the double standard? He has terrorized our families, he has terrorized our lives, he has terrorized our community.”
When asked what justice would look like in this case, Barakat again stressed that the three students were killed because they are Muslim.
“Justice means making sure that this never happens again,” she said. “Making sure that Muslims are respected, are protected, are cared for and are not left to live in fear.”
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