Below are some of the notable letters written in memory of Deah, Yusor and Razan.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by the President
Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated. 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. 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. Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours.
“Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” Yusor said recently. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions – but here, we’re all one.”
Dear Carolina School of Dentistry Students, Faculty and Staff,
We are heartbroken and grief-stricken by last night’s devastating news, the incredible loss to our school and to the entire Carolina Community. One of the shooting victims killed at an off-campus condominium complex has been identified as second-year dental student Deah Barakat. His wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and his wife’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were also killed in the shooting. Yusor was recently admitted as a member of the incoming DDS Class of 2019. Razan was a sophomore at N.C. State University.
Deah was especially close to those of us at the School of Dentistry. A member of DDS 2017, Deah was known for his kindness, service-driven heart, love of basketball and his sincerity. A native of Raleigh, Deah earned his bachelor’s in business administration from N.C. State in 2013 prior to being admitted into our dental program. Deah was involved in many aspects of our dental school – including research with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, serving as a co-president of the new Dental Student Ambassadors group and leading the charge for a dental mission trip to Turkey. He was well loved and respected within these walls, and we will feel his loss deeply.
Deah and Yusor were newlyweds, just recently married in December. Yusor, as many of you know, worked with the North Carolina Missions of Mercy clinics – like many of you did and continue to do – prior to her admission to dental school. We were all looking forward to getting to know her as a member of the UNC dental family beginning in April, and we grieve her loss as well.
This is an incredible tragedy for our school, the dental community and the University. Today, everyone here is grieving. Our deepest sympathy goes out to their families and friends.
We encourage students to call Counseling and Psychological Services (919) 966-3658 for additional support; counseling resources are available for students overnight by contacting (919) 966-2281. Faculty and staff may contact our Employee Assistance Program at (877) 314-5841.
This is a terrible shock, and all of us at the school are grieving together. If there is anything we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate and let us know.
Jane A. Weintraub
Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor
Condolences to the Families of the Chapel Hill Shootings
On behalf of the board, faculty, staff, and students of Zaytuna College, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the parents, family, and friends of the three beautiful young Muslims—Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha—who were tragically and callously murdered last week in North Carolina. I had met Suzanne Barakat, Deah’s sister, some years ago when she attended a Rihla program in Maryland. Since the murders, she has represented her family in an exemplary manner on different programs on national television, voicing her love and her great loss with dignity and intelligence.
Unfortunately, some of the reaction in the Muslim community has been to see the death of the three young Muslims who were killed as somehow fortunate for them, with one imam going so far as to say in his Friday sermon that he “envied these martyrs” who were now in Paradise. This is a complete distortion of the Islamic tradition’s understanding of unjust violence and it plays into the disturbing and inaccurate narrative that Muslims love death. A perverse death cult in the tradition of the Hashashin (from where we get our English word “assassin”) has emerged today among a small minority of heterodox Muslims. In these trying times, it is important that we remember that all life is precious and that grief, as displayed and articulated by Suzanne Barakat, is not only natural but prophetic.
Our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, grieved. He cried out of sadness when his son, Ibrahim, died. He did not say, “I’m happy for him.” Instead, he said, “The eye weeps, and the heart grieves, but we say only what pleases our Lord.” This is the natural and prophetic response to tragedy. Furthermore, the year the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, lost his beloved wife, Khadijah, and his protector and uncle, Abu Talib, is known in the biographical literature as the “Year of Depression.” Feeling grief over the loss of those beloved to us is human nature.
Our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, told us not to wish for death but to ask for a long life that enables one to serve God through devotion and serve God’s creation through charity, kindness, and productive labor. This is exactly what these three young people were doing. They met their Lord in the best of states despite the terror inflicted on their young and innocent souls.
Our prayers are with their families at this difficult time. We hope that the wrongful loss of their lives becomes a catalyst for positive change on many fronts. We hope that all Americans begin to better understand the deep prejudice being perpetrated under the guise of patriotism—a prejudice ironically against patriotic American Muslim citizens who love their country and want to give back to a land that has provided them with great opportunities in education, work, and service.
“Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” Yusor Abu-Salha said in an interview months before her tragic death. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. There are so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions—but here, we’re all one.”
We have a window of opportunity now to educate people about who these three young people were and what they were committed to in their lives: feeding and medically serving the homeless, helping refugees, displaying the best neighborly qualities, and most of all living a true and accurate life of devotion, prayer, and charity.
Sincerely, with tears and condolences,
Dear Carolina Community:
It is with profound sadness that I write to you this morning about the tragic loss of three young people from our community. As most of you likely have heard, last night there was a shooting at a condominium complex near campus that took their lives all too soon. Sadly, Deah Barakat, a student in the School of Dentistry, and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, who had planned to begin her dental studies at Carolina next fall, were killed, along with Yusor’s sister, Razan Abu-Salha, an undergraduate at North Carolina State University.
This is a tremendous loss to the Carolina and N.C. State campuses, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families, fellow students, faculty and friends of these three very promising students. Deah and Yusor, who both were from Raleigh and graduated recently from N.C. State, had just been married and were preparing for careers that had so much potential to help others. Razan, a sophomore from Raleigh, was majoring in environmental design in architecture at N.C. State.
The Chapel Hill Police Department have charged an individual, and the University is cooperating fully with police in the investigation. Police have reassured the community that there is no ongoing threat in connection with this tragedy. In addition, Chapel Hill police said their preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking, but continues to investigate and exhaust every lead to determine if this was hate-motivated. Please know that our highest priority is the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors on Carolina’s campus and in the surrounding community. I would like to thank the Chapel Hill Police Department and first responders for their hard work on this investigation.
Such an act of violence goes against the very fiber of our community and society. It also creates a sense of vulnerability for all of us, especially members of the Muslim community. I am in touch with the Muslim community and students and will continue to be in conversation with them. While the Chapel Hill police continue to gather facts, Carolina has and will remain focused on supporting all members of our community. Plans are underway for a community vigil this evening and details will be shared this afternoon.
Dean Jane Weintraub has gathered the students, faculty and staff in the School of Dentistry so they can come together during this tragedy. The University is offering on-site support and counseling for them. The greater Carolina community also has resources to help us with our grief. We encourage students to call Counseling and Psychological Services (919-966-3658), and faculty and staff to contact our Employee Assistance Program (877-314-5841), if you would like support.
My gratitude goes to all of you for your understanding and kindness as our community draws strength from one another at this very difficult time.
Carol L. Folt, Chancellor
Published February 11, 2015
As our community continues to grapple with the tragic deaths of three members of our Wolfpack family due to a senseless shooting, I want to provide you with some updated information.
Understandably, this violence has left many in our NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill communities feeling saddened and uneasy. I and other NC State officials have reached out to our students, particularly our Muslim students, and will continue offering support to them and the entire NC State community.
If you feel concerned or unsafe, or you just need someone to talk to about this incident, please take advantage of one of the resources listed below. I also encourage all faculty, students and staff to be sensitive to those around them and what they might be going through, and make extra efforts to take care of each other.
If you ever feel like your safety is threatened or you are in danger, the NC State University Police Department is available 24 hours a day. Call 911 for emergencies and 919-515-3000 for nonemergencies.
Professional counselors remain available for students throughout the day at the Counseling Centerlocated in the Student Health Center on Cates Avenue or by phone at 919-515-2423. Faculty and staff can access counseling services through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program by calling 866-467-0467.
In addition, representatives from the Counseling Center, University Housing, Student Leadership and Engagement, Chaplains’ Cooperative Ministry, the Division of Academic and Student Affairs and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity are available until 4 p.m. today for drop-in discussion and support at the One Earth Lounge in the Talley Student Union.
There is a moment of silence planned during the NC State basketball game at PNC Arena tonight against the University of Virginia. There will be a candlelight vigil tomorrow, Feb. 12, hosted by the Muslim Student Association from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Brickyard. The vigil is open to the community.
Senseless acts like this go against all of our beliefs. As I wrote in my most recent Web letter to the campus community, a core value of NC State is respect for diversity in all its forms. We strive to maintain an environment where everyone feels safe, respected and valued.
FEBRUARY 11, 2015 • ETHICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY