Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How the media is reporting on the 3 Muslim students shot and killed in Chapel Hill

A white man shot and killed three Muslim students near the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, and the way the story is being reported is already quite telling. The shooter is a white atheist, and the victims are all Muslim, and reports are already saying things like, "there's no way to determine what the motive could have been," or, the Washington Post's strategy, bending over backwards to avoid concluding it could have been a hate crime -- as Adam Serwer suggested on Twitter, the media likely would do no such thing if the demographics of the crime were reversed. Also interesting is how they're already being framed as "good victims" -- they were "well-liked in their community." Compare that to the coverage on Michael Brown or countless other black victims of violence (which also traces back to Charles Johnson! He tracked down Brown's Instagram account and posted his photos online to try to frame him as a "thug.")

The Chapel Hill Police Department said Wednesday morning that initial indications suggested that the issue stemmed from an argument over parking.
“Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking,” the department said in a statement. “Hicks is cooperating with investigators and more information may be released at a later time.”
But all three victims were Muslim and after the three victims were identified in an alert from UNC Chapel Hill as husband and wife Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Mohammad’s sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, speculation arose that the killing might be related to their religion. The news sparked outrage and a viral Twitter hashtag, #MuslimLivesMatter, reflecting users belief that the crime was religiously motivated and frustration with what they saw as the media’s failure to report the incident.
The victims were described as well-liked in their community. Barakat, a dental student at UNC, was a volunteer for the Miswak Foundation, which provides dental care in impoverished countries. His most recent Facebook post showed him handing out dental supplies to homeless people in downtown Durham. 

Some tweets about it so far -- there have been and will be many today...

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