Published On: Sun, Feb 15th, 2015 on 2:08 pm

Candlelit vigil held in Bradford in memory of Chapel Hill shooting victims

Candles were lit by Bradford residents yesterday in remembrance of the three students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Chapel Hill Shooting Bradford Vigil

Candles lit on the stairs of City Hall.

The first candlelit vigil to be held in West Yorkshire after the tragedy, residents remembered the lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

They were shot dead by Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who described himself as an “anti-theist” and criticised religions online.

He handed himself in to officers the same night he killed the students and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Chapel Hill Police said the shooting was a dispute over parking and possibly a hate crime.

The women’s father, Dr Mohammad Abu-Salha, told press that the shooting was a hate crime and alleged that Hicks had “picked on” his daughter and her husband “a couple times before”.

He said “they were uncomfortable with him” but “did not know he would go this far”.

Organiser of Bradford’s candlelit vigil, Cllr Mohammad Shabbir of the Heaton ward, said: “The attack is the result of a hate crime targeting Muslims. This has further been compounded by the lack of media attention and people are shocked at the marginalisation of Islamophobia as an issue.”

Chapel Hill Shooting Bradford Vigil

A banner held up at the vigil.

Activist Sanaz Raji, who is originally from the United States, came to the vigil from Leeds.

She said: “What happened in Chapel Hill is not an isolated incident, but a legacy of 14 years of violence inflicted on Muslims in North America and beyond post 9/11, that is either sanctioned by government policy, like the “War on Terror” and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill recently passed in Parliament a few days ago, or by the media itself, with films like the recent “American Sniper” that depict Muslims as no more than subhuman.

“Attending vigils like this is a resistance to those harmful discourses that play into the hands of white supremacist violence that has taken the lives of many Muslims around the world.”

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