If you are anything like me, you abandoned all hope of any other work yesterday that didn’t involve closely following the reporting and commentary on the Chapel Hill shootings of Deah, Razan, and Yusor. Since the man who murdered these young people was an atheist and I am too, I was paying special attention to my community’s response. That’s because there have been on-going discussions of when rhetoric in the atheist community has veered from the robust critique of religion and religious belief (which I support) over to islamophobic, hateful rhetoric that contributes to the dehumanization of muslim people. Let’s just say I am disappointed by many voices in my community right now but also very happy with other responses in the atheist realm. If you are an atheist, now is a good time to ponder if your words and actions have contributed to islamophobic sentiment. I know that it’s something I’m thinking really hard about right now.
However, instead of dwelling on atheists, I want to focus on the victims and their families: Deah and Yusor, who were newly married, were involved with dental relief work in Syria and in their community. A humanist organization, Foundation Beyond Belief, has set up a donation drive to honor the victims by donating to the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation. Also, the family has put together a facebook page where you can learn more about the victims and get updates on what is happening with their case and the community.
For more on these murders and on the issue of islamophobia look at these articles:
- An Aljazeera article links the Chapel Hill murders to bigotry in the western media
- The father of the two women murdered is quoted in the Charlotte Observer saying that he believes this was a hate crime
- Amanda Marcotte is talking about tribalism and how atheists need to have a frank conversation about the rhetoric of some in the atheist community and its real world effects
- A number of bloggers from the Freethought Blogs Network have expressed their thoughts on the killings, including Heina, Greta Christina, Dana, Ed, and Jason. I highly recommend reading Jason’s which focuses on tribalism and identity in atheism
- Aaminah Kahn writes for The Progressive about being the non-threatening muslim and anti-muslim bigotry she has experienced
- White male violence, an old but relevant article by Michael Kimmel
- The motivations for the murders of Razan, Yusor, and Deah are discussed in this NYT article
- One of Yusor’s best friends recalls her life; her grief at the loss of her friend as palpable and heartbreaking
- Deah’s sister is interviewed by Anderson Cooper
Finally, if you are active on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, consider following muslims and ex-muslims; pay attention to their voices and what they have to say about their experiences with bigotry.