Yusor Abu-Salha, one of the three students killed in a Tuesday night shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had just months earlier recorded an interview with StoryCorps, in which she described her profound love for America and the experience of growing up Muslim-American.
North Carolina Public Radio posted part of the conversation on Thursday, following the death of Abu-Salha, who was 21, and two other young students, all Muslim:
"Growing up in America has been such a blessing," Abu-Salha said, acknowledging that she still stands out because of the hijab she wears on her head. "There's still so many ways that I feel so embedded in the fabric that is our culture. That's the beautiful thing here." She added, "It doesn't matter where you come from. There's so many different people from so many different places of different backgrounds and religions. But here we're all one — one culture."
After the shooting that killed Abu-Salha, her husband, and her sister, the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter went viral on social media as people voiced why they were so alarmed by the attack and the lack of attention it initially received from major media outlets. The hashtag is a reference to #BlackLivesMatter, which came about after the August 9 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The hashtag isn't just about the Chapel Hill shooting, but about the broader double standard many Muslims feel they face in American society: if the religion of the shooter and victims had been reversed, the story would have received considerably more attention and much more quickly — and it would have likely been labeled an act of terrorism before the facts of the shooting were even clear. But since the identities weren't reversed, those issues didn't register into the national conversation and media coverage. The shooting barely registered at all.