- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2015

Although police haven’t determined yet whether three Muslims in North Carolina were murdered in a parking dispute or because of their religion, President Obama suggested Friday that they were victims of a hate crime.

“No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” Mr. Obama said, saying he and first lady Michelle Obama were offering condolences to the victims’ families.

The three victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh, were shot to death Tuesday at an apartment building in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in what police say was an apparently long-simmering dispute over a parking space. Police are also investigating whether religious hatred was a factor in the shootings.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who lived in the same condominium complex as Mr. Barakat and his wife, has been charged with three counts of murder. The FBI is investigating whether the killings were a hate crime.

Mr. Obama said the murders were “brutal and outrageous.”

“In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated,” he said. “As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family. Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives — and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours.”

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