TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani deplored the killing of 3 Muslim American students in Chapel Hill, and called on the US officials to make the necessary efforts to protect the rights of all citizens, including Muslims.
“The brutal (stunning) killing of the three young Muslim students in the US is another manifestation of the serious dangers of the spread of violence and extremism in our time,” President Rouhani said in a message on Sunday.
“The initial reports indicating that the motivation of this crime has been anti-theist hatred and fight against Islam is extremely worrying,” he added.
Stressing that violence and attacking human beings by misusing the name of religion or based on anti-theist sentiments are against the basics of ethics and the teachings of divine religions, Rouhani called for a global move against anti-religion crimes and violence.
He also extended his condolences to the bereaved families of the three Muslim American students, and urged the US authorities to try to restore the rights of all citizens, including the Muslims.
His message came after the Iranian foreign ministry voiced strong regret over the killing of Muslim American students by an extremist criminal, and called for the exercise of justice.
“We express our deep regret over the targeted promotion of Islamophobia and anti-Islamism and ask for the administration of justice and restoration of the rights of the victims’ families by the US government,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Sunday.
She also underlined the global community’s responsibility for protecting and respecting the religious and humane values in materialist societies, and said, “We believe that the media can play their influential role better than the past in cultivating culture, speaking of the humanitarian causes of Islam and refraining from extremism at different levels of the society.”
A middle-aged white man shot dead Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on Tuesday afternoon.
Rakiv Mazumder, a participant in the mourning ceremony of the three slain Muslims, said that he heard about the shootings through social media. “I am here to pray with my fellow Muslims and to honor the three students that tragically died.”
Local police have launched a homicide investigation focusing on a dispute over a parking space, but the families of the victims have rejected that narrative, describing the killing an “execution-style murder” and a “hate crime”.
Families of the three, who were shot in the head by Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, said they were executed for their religion, Islam, rather than being simply targeted by a criminal.
The killings of three young Muslims, called “gems of their communities”, have caused outrage among Muslims all over the world. Many claim the crimes would have gained more attention if the attacker had been a Muslim and the victims were non-Muslim whites.
Since the murders, US media and law enforcement have been criticized for not treating the shootings as a hate crime. A hate crime indictment would carry a more severe penalty for the murders.
Nigah Mughal said that she has received Islamophobic comments she usually ignores. But when an individual crosses the line, she said justice should be served.
“After this incident, I think, you know always there is something in the back of your head, ‘I could be targeted.’”
The FBI has launched its own probe into the killing of the three students. Representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, welcomed the FBI announcement.
More than 100 religious and community groups, including predominantly Muslim groups, have called on the Obama administration to open a hate crime inquiry and publicly denounce the shootings. The letter is signed by the groups and is addressed to Eric Holder, the US attorney general.