by Laila Azzeh | Feb 12, 2015 | Jordan Times
AMMAN — Two of the three North Carolina college students who were killed on Tuesday, were Jordanians, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry has verified that Yusur Abu Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu Salha, 19, were Jordanian citizens, ministry spokesperson, Ashraf Khasawneh, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Thursday.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three counts of murder in the shooting of a Syrian-American Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusur and her sister Razan. Each was found shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene, according to news reports.
Chapel Hill police said Hicks turned himself late Tuesday and confessed to committing his triple murder out of a “dispute for parking space”.
The crime was condemned as a “hate crime” by the victims’ families, Muslim groups and social media activists worldwide.
“We are now following up on the issue with our embassy in Washington. It is a tragic incident and we are still waiting for the results of the investigation,” Khasawneh said.
Pictures of the victims went viral on social media networks following the incident, showing them to be committed volunteers who were admired by their peers and community.
Barakat was a dental student running a campaign to raise money for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“Yusur was preparing herself to study dentistry and Razan was studying architecture,” an Amman-based relative of the family told The Jordan Times on Thursday, saying that the young women lived in Jordan before their parents decided to immigrate to the US in 1993.
“We telephoned the father [Mohammad Abu Salha] yesterday [Wednesday] evening to offer our condolences. He said the killer had picked on his daughter and her husband several times before,” said the cousin.
He added that Razan was visiting the couple at their apartment when the crime took place.
“As expected, the mother has collapsed and we couldn’t even get her to talk to us,” the relative said.
Abu Salha, a psychiatrist, spoke to the media on Thursday, saying that he strongly believes the crime was prompted by hate.
The event stirred controversy among social media activists, who complained of a low media coverage of the crime, claiming that because the victims were Muslims, the perpetrator was not deemed a terrorist.
This incident led to the creation of hashtags that show solidarity with the victims and denounce what they described as “bias” in the media.
Her Majesty Queen Rania also expressed solidarity with the victims on Twitter.
“More innocent lives lost… RIP Deah, Yusur and Razan, my thoughts and prayers are with your families #muslimlivesmatter”, she tweeted using a popular hashtag that was trending on Facebook and Twitter.
Several candle light vigils were held for the souls of the victims with mourners displaying wedding pictures of the newlyweds, Deah and Yusur, along with Razan.