Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Obama Issues Statement, Three Days after Triple-Homicide of Muslim Family

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Obama Issues Statement, Three Days after Triple-Homicide of Muslim Family

Article excerpt

Obama weighs in on Chapel Hill killings

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WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences Friday for the shooting death of a family that has prompted international scrutiny as a possible anti-Muslim hate crime.

The president issued a statement three days after the triple homicide in Chapel Hill, N.C.

"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.

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

The statement came after criticism from abroad. More than 129,000 people shared on Facebook a column on the Al Jazeera website headlined, "Chapel Hill shooting and western media bigotry." Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had complained about Obama's silence over what many conclude was a hate crime.

There were, in fact, 135 anti-Muslim hate incidents in the U.S. in 2013, according to the FBI. That's more than against any religious group except for one -- the agency reports 625 anti-Jewish crimes that year.

Relatives of the victims suggest this was another one.

The sister of one victim expressed anger Friday at law enforcement's characterization of the shooting as the result of a parking dispute. Susanne Barakat said police appeared to have done no investigative work before announcing that hypothesis.

"I think it's absolutely insulting, insensitive and outrageous," she told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Friday.

"I'm not sure who they spoke to, because it took me all of five minutes of talking to his former roommate -- who they had not reached out to -- to give me details, information, text messages."

Her brother was 23-year-old dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, who was raising money to treat Syrian refugees. …

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