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Father of Muslims killed in Chapel Hill speaks out in Washington DC

April 9, 2019

A Congressional committee on Tuesday heard testimony from a Chapel Hill man about the slayings in 2015 of his two daughters and son-in-law as U.S. lawmakers heard updates about hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism.

Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salah, from Clayton, told the panel about the triple murder in which his two daughters and son-in-law were gunned down four years ago.

“We miss our children so much,” Abu-Salah said. “At times, the pain is just as sharp now as when they died, and I ask you, I truly plead to you, not to let another American family go through this because our government would not act to protect all Americans. Please remember then -- Deah, Yusor and Razan -- they are my children and they are gone.”

After their deaths, Abu-Salha says social media was filled with hate.

“There was a tweet that said, ‘three down, 1.6 billion to go,’” he said.

On Feb. 10, 2015, Craig Hicks went to a neighbor’s condo and shot Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salah and her sister Razan to death, according to Chapel Hill police. Hicks is still awaiting trial on his murder charges.

Investigators said the shooting stemmed from a dispute, but Abu-Salah believes it was a hate crime. On Tuesday, more than four years after the shooting, he told the House committee about his family’s grief.

Executives from Google and Facebook are also expected to testify on how technology companies are addressing hate speech.

Dr. Russell Robinson, a professor at North Carolina Central University, teaches a course on social media. He says it’s a powerful tool, and the sites must be proactive in better policing their users.

“We are kind of at the mercy of our own innovation because you have so much technology, we have to now figure out how to get in front of it,” Robinson said.

Hicks is due in court on Thursday, the Durham district attorney said she would release a statement on his case at that time.