N. Carolina Muslims call for calm after students' murder

Updated 13 February 2015

N. Carolina Muslims call for calm after students' murder

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina: Muslim leaders called for calm after three students were killed by a gunman with anti-religious views as this North Carolina university town prepared Thursday to bury the victims.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot to death Tuesday by a neighbor in what police said was being investigated as a parking dispute.
The alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was believed to be strongly opposed to religion, as his Facebook page showed dozens of anti-religious posts, including proclamations denouncing Christianity, Mormonism and Islam.
Thousands gathered late Wednesday at a tearful candlelight vigil, with many expressing fear the students were killed because of their religion.
“This is definitely a hate crime, it’s all over his Facebook that he’s atheist and hates Christians and hates Muslims,” said Sarah Alhorani, a former student at University of North Carolina where Barakat was a second year dentistry student.
“To be honest, it makes me more scared because I have two babies, so I don’t even want to imagine,” she said.
Family friends said Mohammad had complained in the past that Hicks had harassed her, appearing at her door with a gun on his waist.
Some Muslim leaders said the shooting was a reflection of wider anti-Muslim hostility, and warned it could sow fear among Muslim Americans.
“Already it is stoking fears. I’ve received dozens of phone calls in just the short period of time,” Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told AFP.
“People are very concerned about what happened they feel that this is a premeditated hate crime,” he said.
Chapel Hill Police lieutenant Joshua Mecimore said Thursday the incident still appeared to have been provoked by “an ongoing parking dispute between neighbors,” but said all possible motives were being investigated.
Barakat’s sister urged authorities to investigate the execution-style killing as targeted attack.
“We ask that the authorities investigate these senseless and horrendous murders as a hate crime,” Suzanne Barakat told reporters.

"American issue"

Meanwhile, Muslims in North Carolina urged restraint, calling for peace in the tight-knit university town.

“It’s time to mourn but its also time to call for harmony and peace,” the head of the Islamic Association in neighboring Raleigh, Mohamed Elgamal, told AFP.
He said the killing should be treated as not “a Muslim issue, this is an American issue,” and said despite discrimination, Muslims across the United State should stand together.
“There are some fears but not to the degree that we really are going to change our way of life because if we do then we let those killers win, so we really have to be better than them,” he said, in the Muslim center where the three victims are set to be buried later Thursday.
“We still believe in peaceful and harmonious relationship in our community with Muslims and non Muslims, it does not matter,” he said.
There are 65,000 Muslims in North Carolina, which has a population of 9.9 million, and the majority live in the Chapel Hill area.
For some, the brutal slayings promised to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together.
“We need to take their memory and move forward. We can’t express hatred toward those who committed the acts,” said Zakeria Haidary, a friend of Barakat.
“I think it will have a ripple effect but I think tonight’s a testament that it will be a positive ripple effect. I’m a Muslim and I’ve never felt more supported,” he told AFP.
The killings in Chapel Hill sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide with the hashtags
#ChapelHillShooting and #MuslimLivesMatter trending globally.
At home, the community was still reeling from the murders, rattled by fears that Muslims could be targetted.
“Today I was scared to walk out my door, but I did and I kept going and I kept my scarf on and you keep moving on,” Alhorano said.
“It makes you stronger. In the beginning you’re scared because you think that could have been any one of us but it wasn’t.”


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 min 45 sec ago

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.