Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:7PM
US President Barack Obama has condemned the recent “brutal and outrageous murders” of the three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“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 in a statement on Friday. “Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones.”
A hateful middle-aged white man shot dead Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on Tuesday afternoon.
Obama’s comments came after criticism from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his silence over the tragic incident. Erdogan urged Obama to condemn the killing that has caused outrage among Muslims all over the world.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, through his spokesman, expressed his sadness over the murders but stopped short of condemning the incident. Ban also called for a full probe into all aspects of the incident.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Thursday night that it has launched an inquiry into the killing, after families of the victims denounced police for not pursuing the case as a hate crime.
Local police have launched a homicide investigation focusing on a dispute over a parking space, but the families have rejected that narrative, describing the killing an “execution-style murder” and a “hate crime”.
The FBI’s main North Carolina office said that the agency would continue to help the local law enforcement agencies with their ongoing investigation.
“The FBI has also opened a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case,” said Shalley Lynch, media coordinator for the Charlotte field office of the FBI.
The father of the two female students shot dead told the crowd during their funereal on Thursday they were victims of a hate crime and his pain was indescribable. Mohammad Abu-Salha demanded that investigators treat the killing as a hate crime.
“I’ve talked to police, I’ve talked to lawyers,” he said, his voice choking with grief. “This has ‘hate-crime’ written all over it.”