There is an “open season” against Muslims in the United States and a part of the blame rests on movies such as “American Sniper,” said Suzanne Barakat, the sister of Deah Barakat, one of the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting, in a recent interview.
“The day of the murders, an assemblywoman from the state I live in used the hashtag “stand up against Islam,” she said during Friday’s broadcast of “The Lead” on CNN.
“And it’s currently an open season, a time where it’s an open season against Islam, Muslims in Washington, Muslims in the general media dehumanizing Muslims in movies like ‘American Sniper,’” she added.
On Tuesday night, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad, 19 were shot dead in their condominium near the University of North Carolina. A 46-year-old neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, was charged with three counts of murder.
The family of the victims contest with reports that the shootings were caused by a dispute over a parking spot.
Barakat also criticized the media coverage of the murders.
“Had roles been reversed, and no one is talking about this, but 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,” she said.
“I haven’t heard anyone use the term ‘terrorist’ here but it– why the double standard? He has terrorized our families, he has terrorized our lives, he has terrorized our community, locally, nationally, and internationally and it’s time that people call it for what it is,” she continued.
Arab rights groups such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) have also publically lashed out at the lack of coverage and claim “American Sniper,” the film based on the life of the slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle during the Iraq war, led to a surge in Islamophobia in the United States.
“After the release of 'American Sniper' we began noticing that the hate rhetoric was a bit more volatile, a bit more raw and violent, calling for murders, executions, for the killings of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S.,” Abed Ayoub, the legal director of ADC, told Al Arabiya News earlier this week.
“For the first time we noticed that the threats have taken a turn. It’s no longer like, ‘you towel-heads, you rag-heads, go back to the desert’. It’s ‘I’m going to send you back there in a box.'”
U.S. President Barack Obama described the killings of the three young Muslims as “brutal and outrageous murders” on Friday, saying that no one in the United States should be targeted for their religion. Obama’s statement came a day after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticized Obama for his silence about the incident.
Barakat said that people need to work together to raise awareness and “spread love.”
“Justice means making sure that this never happens again, making sure that Muslims are respected, are protected, are cared for, and are not left to live in fear,” Barakat added.
“I was speaking with my husband and wondering how are we are going to raise children in this country if we are afraid for their safety and for their lives because of the ignorance and because of the biased.”
“We want to make sure that what comes out of this is awareness, is a spread of love. We are not seeking to — punishment is not the goal here. It is absolutely not the goal. We want everyone in solidarity, globally, to make sure that we all unite as humanity.”SHOW MORE