During a meeting at the White House with Muslim Americans, President Biden was told by an attendee that three of her relatives in Chapel Hill, NC had been murdered in an anti-Muslim hate crime. According to press reports this had a deep effect on the President, triggering him to apologize for doubting Hamas casualty claims.
As reported by ABC:
In a moment that multiple people in the room on Oct. 26 corroborated, [Dr. Suzanne] Barakat emotionally told the president that “they both shared the loss of loved ones — in her case, to horrific hateful violence.”
Barakat’s brother, his wife and her sister were all murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, eight years ago. Barakat described it as a hate crime.
… Barakat related her experience to Biden’s, listing off the names of the president’s first wife, eldest son and baby daughter — Neilia, Beau and Naomi — all of whom have died.
Biden grew quiet and appeared “deeply affected,” according to two of the meeting participants.
A horrific crime, no doubt, but the facts do not support Barakat’s apparently politically motivated claim that the murders were a hate crime. Both the FBI and local authorities found that Craig Hicks, the murderer, was obsessed with neighbors in the condominium complex allegedly making too much noise or taking up more parking spots than authorized. He had regularly complained about this to Deah Barakat, but also to other non-Muslim neighbors in the complex.
On the day of the murders, when Hicks knocked on the apartment door, Barakat answered with his cellphone recording video, apparently to document the harassment. That video was finally publicly played at the sentencing, four years after the murders, and according to an NBC report:
The video rolls as Barakat approaches the door to record the exchange with his often-seething neighbor. He hoped it could be evidence for a legal restraining order to keep him away …
With the victims’ parents and siblings watching, the video showed Hicks complaining Barakat and the Abu-Salha sisters were using three parking spaces. Prosecutors said that wasn’t true. When Barakat responded they were using no more spaces than condo rules allow, Hicks responded, “You’re going to be disrespectful towards me, I’m going to be disrespectful …” Hicks pulled a gun from his waist and fired several times.
The phone dropped. The sounds of women screaming can be heard, followed by several more shots. Then silence.
In addition to the video evidence and the gunman’s own statement to police that the murders stemmed from a parking dispute, his estranged wife Karen Hicks told a news conference that:
This incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith, but in fact was related to the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors.
Furthermore, as detailed in a Salon article, on his Facebook page Hicks criticized all religions, not just Islam, and wrote that he would be fine with another Muslim president:
Postings from Craig Hicks’ Facebook page would seem to corroborate her words: “I hate Islam just as much as christianity, but they” – Muslims – “have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do.” Hicks wrote this in support of American Muslims who wanted to build the once notorious (but never-built and now forgotten) “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan – not exactly something one would expect from an Islamophobe. On the same page he also opined that “It’s OK if we have a Muslim president.”
These were horrible and senseless murders, carried out by a clearly deranged man, but with no evidence it was a hate crime, and the Obama administration’s Justice Department apparently agreed and did not file hate crime charges.
It was wrong to deceive President Biden by claiming the North Carolina murders were an anti-Muslim hate crime, and it was a cruel manipulation to tie the murders to the tragic car accident that claimed Biden’s first wife and their young daughter.
It says something if this is how you have to make your case.