Victims’ Families to Congress: Hate Crimes Must Stop

On Thursday, Ocotber 22nd, Muslim Advocates co-hosted a briefing with the Sikh Coalition on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to join our communities and ask the federal government to rigorously investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

Muslim Advocates invited Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha and Farris Barakat, whose family members Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, were brutally murdered in an anti-Muslim hate crime in Chapel Hill, NC, to share their story. They were joined by Raghuvinder Singh, whose father Baba Punjab Singh remains in a semicoma after a mass shooting by a white supremacist at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI in 2012.

The briefing, titled “First Hand: Understanding Hate Violence in America,” was held in conjunction with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus and included special guest speakers Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Yusor and Razan’s father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, bravely told Congress, “There have been multiple murders across the country in the last few months that appear to be fueled by hate against Muslims. We need leaders at the highest level of government to address this crisis—my daughters’ lives and all the others who have died cannot be in vain.”

Dr. Abu-Salha urged officials to acknowledge hate crimes. “Without the right diagnosis, you cannot have appropriate treatment.”

Raghuvinder Singh spoke about how hate-fueled violence impacted his family. “When I ask my father if he is living in Chardi Kala – love and relentless optimism even in suffering – he blinks twice – yes,” he said.

Farris Barakat, Deah’s brother, said “We will accept that their murders were over a parking dispute when we accept that Rosa Parks’ struggle was over a bus seat.”

Just this year we have seen horrific crimes against many faith communities including the June church shooting in Charleston, SC. Briefing participants urged Congress to join us in asking the federal government to investigate and prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.

This was an important opportunity for members of our community to be heard by officials at the highest levels of government – and we couldn’t have done that without everyone who supports our work.

Note: If you or a loved one is a victim of a hate crime, please click here for Muslim Advocates’ resource page on how to file a report in your state.