#MuslimLivesMatter: The Murder Of Muslims Deah, Yusor and Razan By A White American
09 March 2015
By Diana Moukalled
Last week, a hashtag on Twitter was able to embarrass the entire US media.
Users of the social media website from around the world used #MuslimLivesMatter
to express their anger at the US media for not picking up on the story of
three young Muslims in North Carolina—23-year-old Syrian trainee doctor Deah
Barakat, his 21-year-old Palestinian wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister
Razan, two years her junior—who were all murdered, ''execution-style.'' The
neighbor who stands accused of killing them has turned himself in to the
It had taken over 15 hours—a century in journalistic terms—for the US press
to pick up on the story, and, truth be told, it would probably have been
completely overlooked had it not been for the vociferous activity on Twitter.
It is now hard to believe that the killing of these three young people was
due to a parking dispute, as the authorities in North Carolina would have us
believe. Looking at the background of the alleged killer and his unambiguous
and virulent Islamophobia, it is clear that this at the very least played a
part in the motive for the murder. Yusor and Razan's father said following
his daughters' deaths that Yusor had spoken to him previously about the man
and the way he had acted towards them.
Why then was the US press, when it finally took notice of the story, so
reluctant to label the murders as a hate crime? And how was it possible for
this story to slip under their radars in this way—where it no doubt was
destined to remain had it not been for the Twitter backlash?
Suffice it to say, the usual, and sadly true, contention that the response
from the US press would have been entirely different had the situation been
reversed, if the alleged killer was a Muslim and the victims were, say,
Christian or Jewish Americans, does not really reveal anything we didn't
already know. It has become abundantly clear that Muslims are only newsworthy
if they are the perpetrators of crimes and not victims of them.
A cursory glance at the tweets using the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag showed
that those using it were not just incensed by one crime, but by two. The
magnitude of anger expressed toward not only the murder of these three
innocent victims but also the subsequent way their murder was ignored in the
media and how this reflected the negative views being directed towards
Muslims today globally, particularly to those living in Western countries,
was palpable to say the least.
Among those using the hashtag were American and Western Muslims, their faces
just like those that belonged to Deah, Yusor and Razan, who, as three
well-regarded regular young people seeking a high-quality education, career,
and a successful family life, represent the majority of Muslims in the West,
who are of course seeking exactly the same things.
It is clear from looking at these three that they were effortlessly able to
balance their American identity with that of their religion and countries of
origin with any conflict whatsoever. The hordes of people who thronged their
funeral procession in North Carolina last week, as well as the recollections
and memories of their friends and colleagues, are a testament to how well
they managed this.
Many Muslims on Twitter and elsewhere were easily able to relate to the three
victims: the silent Muslims who don't make the headlines and who feel their
faith is under attack from extremists who insist on killing in their
name—while at the same time being seen as a threat by those with whom they
live in the West.
The overwhelming response to #MuslimLivesMatter also showed how determined
Muslims are to overturn the negative, prevalent image many have of their
faith as a result of the actions of those committing atrocities in its name.
It may be obvious to point this out, but there are many Muslims for whom this
has become a very pressing need.
It is of course well known now that most of the victims of these extremist
groups are in fact Muslims, and that these groups target Muslims before
anyone else—the news coming out of our region on a daily basis proves this
without a doubt. But the murder of Deah, Yusor and Razan was not one of
these: it was not the usual murder of Muslims by other Muslims; it was the
murder of Muslims by a white American.
Putting it like this forces the West to now take an honest look at a
phenomenon or set of values that is beginning to leave the realm of the
merely theoretical or nominal, to take tangible form in the most horrible of
Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the
Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked
Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs
on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana
also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and
in Afghanistan, as well as the Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern
Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide recognition and was named one of
the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in