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Obama: No American should be 'targeted because of who they are'

Posted February 13, 2015

Deah Shaddy Barakat, left, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha
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— President Barack Obama expressed outrage Friday over the shooting deaths of three students in Chapel Hill this week.

"No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like or how they worship," Obama said in a statement.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were found dead at the newlywed couple's home about 3 miles from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who lived in the same condominium complex as the victims and has described himself as a "gun-toting atheist," is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Police have said the killings appear to be the result of a long-running dispute over parking spaces at the complex, but the father of the Abu-Salha sisters has called the shootings a hate crime because all three victims were Muslim.

The FBI opened an inquiry into the case on Thursday, and agents met Friday morning with federal and Durham County prosecutors and local police. In addition to Hicks' apartment, investigators are searching his computers and cellphone.

The case could go before a grand jury as early as Monday, but prosecutors said no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty.

Obama's statement came one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized him and other U.S. officials for not speaking out against the killings. Erdogan called the silence of the Obama administration "meaningful."

Barakat was planning a trip to Turkey to provide dental care for Syrian refugees, and the American Turkish Association of North Carolina praised him, saying in a statement that "his outstanding effort to help the disadvantaged half way around the world speaks volumes of his respect for humanity and human life."

An estimated 5,500 mourners gathered Thursday in Raleigh at a solemn funeral and prayer service for the three students. Relatives viewed the victims' bodies in a small building near one of the area's largest mosques, where the two families have long been members. Because of the sizeable crowd, the service was then moved across the street to athletic fields owned by North Carolina State University, where Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha had graduated and Razan Abu-Salha was a student.

Vigils have been held at both N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill in honor of the three, and Muslim groups held prayers in front of the White House on Friday to press their demands for a federal hate-crime investigation.

"Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones," Obama said. "As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family."

26 Comments

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  • Wayne R. Douglas Feb 15, 2015
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    It is his birth name, that's what I call him.

  • Alan Baker Feb 15, 2015
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    It's disappointing then you were discharged from two services and yet never developed sufficient class to show even the most basic level of respect for the duly-elected President of the nation you claim to have served. If you think "Barry" is the appropriate way to refer to the President, I feel no qualms about calling your "patriotic intelligence" into question as thus far you've publicly displayed little of either.

  • Tom Boswell Feb 14, 2015
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    Obama calls this act random when Jews are killed. The referenced attack was committed by a man claiming allegiance to ISIS at a Kosher deli in early January. The man killed four Jews and took over a dozen others in the deli hostage, and said in an interview with BFM-TV he wanted to defend Palestinians and target Jews, according to Reuters. Yet when the three here are killed with no reference at all that they were killed because they were Muslim he states "No American should be be targeted because of who they are". What part of Barack Hussein Obama do we not get???

  • Jamie Young Feb 14, 2015
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    http://gotnews.com/analysis-chapelhillshooting-victims-anti-semitic-anti-zionist-pro-syrian-terrorist-tweets/

  • Wayne R. Douglas Feb 14, 2015
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    You are specifically speaking of what exactly? Personally, I have not changed my intentions, nor my spoken (written) opinion of anything here. I am interested in learning more about your claim of "frightened unpatriotic stupidity". As I am an honorably discharged veteran of both the US Army and the USMC, there is no question as to my patriotic intelligence. Please enlighten me as to exactly what your comment is to mean.

  • Alan Baker Feb 13, 2015
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    It's lovely to see how the Facebook accounts have raised the level of intellectual discourse on the site. Mostly it just confirms that no matter how ignorant or off their meds, some people will still find a way to spew their frightened unpatriotic stupidity.

  • Wayne R. Douglas Feb 13, 2015
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    Hey Barry. Does your statement also include Caucasians? There were a bunch of them killed this week also. Could you please make some statement about them? I thought not. What about the homeless folks who have died in the last week, simply because they didn't have enough food, or froze from not having enough clothing? Any statement about them? I thought not. So for Barry to make any statement, the person killed must be anything other than Caucasian. No, that's not racist at all.

  • Guy Percy Feb 13, 2015
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    Worst POTUS EVER!!!!

  • Guy Percy Feb 13, 2015
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    Nailed it!!!!

  • Guy Percy Feb 13, 2015
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    Remember only whites can cause hate crimes.

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