The Chapel Hill Shooting Was Anything But a Parking Dispute

February 15, 2015

deah-yusor-razan-003The shooting deaths of three Muslim university students last week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has ignited a firestorm of debate about the killer’s motives. According to his neighbors, Craig Stephen Hicks, the 46-year-old charged with murdering Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, was an angry man hostile towards religion, irritated by noise in his apartment complex and testy when it came to parking spots, the New York Times reports.

On Monday, a grand jury indicted Hicks on three counts on murder. The FBI opened a “preliminary inquiry” into the possibility of federal law violations.

But could it be, some are asking, that Hicks simply snapped? That this was not a hate crime motivated by underlying anti-Muslim animus, but rather was the tragic ending to a simple misunderstanding over noisy neighbors who parked in the wrong space?

The idea that a parking dispute would trigger such senseless violence isn’t farfetched in today’s America. But bringing up things like “parking disputes” in order to avoid conversations about deep-seated prejudices isn’t unheard of, either. In fact, “parking concerns” are a pretext that seems to plague the American Muslim community, especially when mosques are involved.

In November, residents of Des Plaines, Illinois, packed a city council meeting to express their annoyance over a local mosque’s plans to expand its parking lot.

“Mosque parking” has also been a hot-button issue in a Michigan town.

And in an Oklahoma town.

One Houston, Texas, community posted bluntly worded “No Muslim Parking” placards at a local mosque.

And in New York, it wasn’t just “parking” that bothered some people; they also took issue with Muslim cab drivers who audaciously double-parked their taxis on the street while they prayed.

The Garden State has had its share of #parkingwhileMuslim problems.

New Hampshire has, too.

And for the love of God, let’s not forget Virginia.

That state may be “for lovers,” but according to one virulently anti-Muslim website, it’s also where the followers of Islam are waging a “parking jihad.” In Georgia, citizens who held “Ban Islam!” signs ahead of a city council vote on whether or not to allow a Muslim group to rent space for weekly worship had an opportunity to speak once the meeting started. What did they cite as their concern? Too many benevolent and faithful Muslims spreading goodwill and hospitality in their community? Nope. It was parking.

Read more at Mic.