HAF Mourns Loss of Three Student Lives at Chapel Hill

Washington, D.C. (February 11, 2015) -- Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) deplored the murder of three students of Muslim faith at their apartment near the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill on Tuesday afternoon. Craig Stephen Hicks surrendered unconditionally at a Durham County police facility and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the victims,” said Murali Balaji, HAF Director of Education and Curriculum Reform. “We hope that Chapel Hill police will find out the motive for this tragedy and make sure that the families of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha get justice. UNC and city officials should use this tragedy as an opportunity for further engaging diverse populations to ensure campus and community harmony, in addition to bolstering safety against gun violence.”

The police are continuing to investigate the motive behind the crime. Possible leads include a dispute over a parking spot, as well as bias against Islam by Hicks based on his alleged earlier posts on social media outlets.

University and school settings have historically been common sites for gun violence, based on official statistics. HAF has called for gun reform to curb violence particularly targeting student settings and houses of worship. HAF has been engaged with White House and Administration officials on bolstering gun reform since the violent attack that took the lives of 26 children and teachers in Sandy Hook, Connecticut as well as the shooting at a Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin, both in 2012.

“Gun violence is a tragedy that can easily be remedied if common-sense reform is implemented by our lawmakers,” said Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF Executive Director and Legal Counsel. “The motive behind such incidences may be many, but easy access to firearms further exacerbates the frequency of such attacks.”