CAIRO – Marking one year on the murder of three American Muslims by an Islamophobic neighbor, a leading US Muslim advocacy group urged those seeking a just and peaceful society to take part in the anniversary on Wednesday, February 10, though community service in their local area.
“We urge people of all faiths and backgrounds to join in honoring ‘Our Three Winners,’ Deah, Yusor and Razan, by taking part in Wednesday’s anniversary events,” Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement obtained by AboutIslam.net.
“Those unable to join in the North Carolina memorial events should seek out an opportunity to perform some form of community service as a way to continue their legacy of giving.”
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23 his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were fatally shot Feb. 10, 2015, at the couple’s condominium in Chapel Hill.
A neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, has been charged with murder in their deaths and could face the death penalty if convicted.
The three young Muslims will be honored with memorial events at UNC-Chapel Hill and at North Carolina State University.
There will also be a “Beacon of Light” award ceremony at the Light House in Raleigh, NC, a community center designed to honor the slain students and to serve as an incubator for small businesses, provide after-school programs for students and to counter growing Islamophobia.
Over the past year, the families of the victims, who came to be known as “Our Three Winners” because of their exemplary lives and their positive contributions to the local community, have been working to preserve their legacy.
One of the planned projects to honor their memory is a community center, that will be known as “The Light House,” which started by Barakat’s family in a former rental property in east Raleigh.
“What makes America great is us coming together with resilience and dignity,” said Farris Barakat, the brother of late Deah.
Since 9/11, Barakat said, and increasingly in the past six months or so, “I think what is happening is our two communities have started to part ways.”
Muslims and non-Muslims, he said, “are not listening to each other. There is so much rhetoric, fencing with words. There should be so much more that we agree on.”
Despite their loss, the victims’ families said they will continue to advocate mutual relations between different faiths and a better understanding of the American Muslim community.