This week, the Arab American community and the Arab American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, observed the one-year anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Caucus noted that this past year there has been a dramatic increase in Islamophobic rhetoric and actions from ordinary people and politicians alike.
On February 10, 2015, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were gunned down in their home by their neighbor, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks.
“It is time that we start talking about how real Islamophobia is – it’s not just a word tossed around for political purposes, but rather a harsh reality that we observe at our college campuses, workplaces, schools, supermarkets, and places of worship”, explains Arab American Caucus chair, Murad Sarama.
“When ridicule and disrespect become socially acceptable, tangible discrimination can easily follow, along with harassment and acts of hatred, culminating in murder. This was clearly expressed by Jewish Voice for Peace in response to the North Carolina killings, when it posted: ‘Those of us who are non-Muslims know that we have SUCH a great responsibility to call out racism and Islamophobia where and when we see it, especially in our OWN families, communities, and houses of worship, where silence only perpetuates violence and ignorance. There is no excuse for silence.'”