Chapel Hill Atheist, Craig Hicks, Executes Muslim Family Over Parking Spot

atheist stamp, photo by mark hassed

atheist stamp, photo by mark hassed

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina – Three young people were murdered execution style on Wednesday, February 11th. The community and subsequently people from around the world were shocked by the news that these young Muslims had each been shot in the head.

They were newlyweds Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, and his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Yusor's sister, Razan Mohammad.

Barakat who was an American of Syrian descent according to Reuters "wrote in his last Facebook post about providing free dental supplies and food to homeless people in downtown Durham. He was also raising funds for a trip to Turkey with 10 other dentists to provide free fillings, root canals and oral hygiene instruction to Syrian refugee children." (Source: Reuters)

There is a push to have this heinous crime classified as a 'hate crime' because the victims were Muslim and they were murdered by a White American man. The Hate Crime Law was enacted to charge people with crimes against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or disability.

The KKK and other White Supremacists who murdered African-Americans during the Civil Rights era, were brought to justice decades later under this statute. It would seem that Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, fits the profile of a racist, and though this may have been a contributing factor, it doesn't seem to be the only motivation.

According to residents of the complex where Barakat lived, Craig had a volatile disposition and had engaged in numerous hostile altercations with neighbors over limited parking. He was vitriolic and abusive in words and deeds when he perceived that someone had gotten a spot that he deserved. His behavior was frightening and he was definitely out of control even with other non-Muslim residents as described by those who had interacted with him on previous occasions.

However, in every other case Craig did not then act upon his grievance by going to get a gun and shoot the individual who was the object of his contempt. In the case of Barakat, Craig with malice aforethought, went to get a gun, pushed into Barakat's condominium where it is presumed he wantonly executed the three young, bright, high-achievers.

Although Craig's wife has tried to defend his actions by saying that he is not a racist, other news reports claim that he often made fun of the Barakat and his wife Yusor because of their dress. Why he chose to kill Barakat, Yusor, and Razan and not others is at the crux of the matter. Perhaps racism was the a factor in the murders, but it may have been his anti-religious stance that was the subtext.

Last month, Hicks posted a photograph that said, “Praying is pointless, useless, narcissistic, arrogant, and lazy; just like the imaginary god you pray to.” It is also reported that he is also an Anti-theists, which is an even more radical sect of atheists who are particularly outspoken and confrontational about their disbelief, researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga said in a recent study.

"Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental," the researchers wrote. "The anti-theist has a clear and -- in their view, superior -- understanding of the limitations and danger of religions." (Source: CNN)

For someone who took umbrage with God, and who was already predisposed to dislike Muslims, it is quite likely that by eradicating these young people, who were devout and publicly Muslim, he was able to kill two birds with one stone. Meaning, he was able to demonstrate his disdain of religion and its adherents, particularly those who followed the Abrahamic faiths - Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, especially the latter for which he had a virulent dislike; plus kill Barakat, his new wife, and her sister.

We may never know the answer, and in fact, no answer will assuage the pain of the parents of these three young victims. However, whether or not these murders are classified as a 'hate crime,' the killings shed light on the increasing levels of Islamophobia both in America and Europe, as well as a trend towards Secularism and Atheism in our society.

When a man does not believe in a higher power or accountability, he will do whatever is right in his own eyes, and is capable of doing whatever it takes to get what he wants. In this case, Craig the atheist wanted a parking space.

Editor-in-Chief: @AyannaNahmias
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Neo-Nazism, Roma, and the Baby in the Middle

roma anti-segregation demonstration In budapest, hungary, 2013, photo by brell stewart

roma anti-segregation demonstration In budapest, hungary, 2013, photo by brell stewart

MAKO, Hungary - In America, racism is identified primarily as a ‘black’ and ‘white’ issue. It is considered a systemic problem that evolved out of slavery and continues to be promulgated by people on both sides through ideology, lack of education, and plain hatred.

Increasingly, with the explosion of extremist groups divided along religious and ethnic lines that transcend color; xenophobia has become the norm in response to the other and the concept of racism breaks down as understood from an American vantage point.

The rise of Neo-Nazism, White Supremacists, and Aryan Nations movements continues to plague America, but to a less dangerous degree than the far-right political parties gaining prominence and power across Europe. These groups, like the violent Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have harnessed the power of the internet and social media to disseminate their messages of hate and to gain ill-informed followers.

These seemingly respectable political parties and their leaders present an appearance of civility and nationalism, when in fact their rhetoric has fomented a resurgence of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-African immigrants, and anti-Roma. Anti-Roma? Most would ask, “What is that?”

For people and organizations with a focus on fighting against human rights abuses, and who are very familiar with the usual players, both victims and victimizers, the Roma or Travellers as they prefer to be called, or derogatorily referred to as ‘Gypsies,’ are a known persecuted group. From 1939 to 1945 the Nazis instituted a policy to eradicate the Roma.

“While exact figures or percentages cannot be ascertained, historians estimate that the Germans and their allies killed around 25 percent of all European Roma. Of the slightly less than one million Roma believed to have been living in Europe before the war, the Germans and their Axis partners killed up to 220,000 in the Holocaust.” (Source: Holocaust Encyclopedia)

In the seven decades since, the Roma have rebuilt their lives and their culture, albeit one that continues to be at odds with the more traditional lifestyles of modern societies. They have been maligned as ‘evil,’ ‘dirty,’ ‘thieves,’ and ‘murderers’ because of the actions of a few, and perhaps even more than a few. Just as America has been grappling with an alarming rate of young black men being murdered by police simply because of their skin color, and thus bore the burden of the bad acts of other men who happened to be similarly hued; the Roma are being targeted because of the bad acts of their brethren.

But, why is this news worthy? Because people believe in the mystical power of a new year, that it will bring change, good fortune, peace and happiness. So, on December 31st, despite history to the contrary, the world once again rejoiced one minute past midnight as 2015 began. It was also the beginning of Rikardo Racz’s life who was born in Hungary to Roma parents Peter and his wife Sylvia.

As traditional in many communities across the country, and apparently across Europe as well, the first baby born in the New Year is afforded fanfare and publicity for having arrived at such a propitious hour. But, Rikardo’s birth has now been heralded as anything but, since a photo of the proud parents holding their son, elicited a vitriolic response from Elod Novak, deputy leader of the far-right Jobbik party who posted a picture of his ‘pure white’ Hungarian family on Facebook inciting his followers to express such sentiments as "They're breeding like rats, like parasites," and that they were going to dilute the purity of the Hungarian bloodline.

“Elod Novak, the Parliamentary deputy, has refused to apologise for his comments and even suggested that Peter should apologise to him. Far-right media are still full of allegations of an "explosion" of Roma births. They maintain its Hungary's biggest problem. They don't seem to realise that Roma are Hungarians too.” (Source: BBC)

Prior to Rikardo’s birth, BBC reported that the Racz family lived a quiet life in their community working and sending their two daughters to kindergarten, and despite the fact that they were the only Roma living in the small village, they never experienced any hostility or racism. Now they must confront a new reality, one in which Peter laments, "All that differentiates us is the colour of our skin. We have the same hearts and blood and souls." (Source: BBC)

And why should any of this concern us? In these days and times of intolerance and fear, of apathy and myopia, we would do well to remember the perils of not standing up to injustice as captured in poetry by Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller who was subsequently sent to a concentration camp.

“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Socialist, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Socialist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me — and by that time no one was left to speak up."

 

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Pakistani Minister Pledges $100,000 for Murder of Anti-Islamic Filmmaker

fatah-youth-photo-by-ahmad-al-bazz.jpg

Death Mask of Oliver Cromwell, Photo by LisbyISLAMABAD, Pakistan – From 2002 to 2010, the United States gave $13.3 billion in security-related aid to Pakistan, and $6 billion for economic assistance. It subsequently increased following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the retaliatory attack by the U.S. n the Taliban regime. More than $5.3 billion is pledged for the 2012 fiscal year of which $2.3 billion is earmarked to help the country’s counter-terrorism efforts. (Source: ABC News)

Despite this massive amount of financial support provided by the U.S. to Pakistan, there have been mounting tensions between the two nations, as well as a significant spike in mistrust following the death of Osama bin Laden on 2 May 2011.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a Pakistan government minister has offered $100,000 (£61,616) bounty for the death of the maker of an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. According to Reuters, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said he would pay the reward for the "sacred duty" out of his own pocket.

The incendiary film has sparked protests across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, but in many instances the film has been used as an excuse by those who harbor resentment of the slow pace of change following the Arab Spring; and in the case of the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, as cover for a coordinated, paramilitary terrorist attack.

Though Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Obama and other U.S. government officials have vigorously condemned the film, this has failed to placate the mobs which have taken to the streets of Islamic nations.

Since the violent protests erupted in Pakistan at least 20 people died in clashes between anti-film protesters and Pakistani police. U.S. citizens have been warned against traveling to the region and an advertising campaign designed to calm tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan is being vigorously promoted.

The Pakistani government has disavowed Mr. Bilour’s statements but is currently in discussions about what if any action to take against him. At this point he will remain in his position even as he reaffirmed his commitment to “pay whoever kills the makers of this video $100,000, and if someone else makes other similar blasphemous material in the future, I will also pay his killers $100,000.”

The low-budget film was produced in 2011 and posted to YouTube where it languished without incident until it was promoted in the U.S. by an anti-Islamic pastor. It was subsequently discovered by Muslim news-makers, at which point, though it is unclear when, it was translated into Arabic.

The film is extremely inflammatory, depicting the Prophet Mohammad in an unflattering and blasphemous manner. The alleged producer of the trailer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is in hiding.

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