Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wifem Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha who were shot dead Wednesday .
(photo credit: TWITTER)
US President Barack Obama announced on Friday that the FBI will investigate the murders of three young Muslim college students in North Carolina.
“Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina,” Obama said in a statement released to the press. “In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated.”
“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,” the president said. “Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones. 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.”
On Thursday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticized Obama for his silence following the killings.
Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha traveled to Turkey to help perform fillings and root canals for refugees, while Razan Abu-Salha helped develop a video that was intended to spread positive messages about being Muslim-American.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday praised the three victims as representing the best values of global citizenship and said he was deeply moved by scenes of thousands of people mourning their deaths.
Police charged the couple's neighbor with murder. They say initial findings indicate a dispute over parking prompted the shooting, but they are looking into whether Hicks was motivated by hatred toward the victims because they were Muslim.
"At a time of troubling tensions stoked by those who seek to twist the teachings of faith and sow division, these three young people represented the best values of global citizenship and active community compassion to build a better world for all," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday.
Thousands of mourners attended funeral prayers for them on Thursday.
The case has garnered international attention, prompting vigils and the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter on social media, and raising concerns among some Muslim advocates in the United States who say they have seen an increase in threats against their communities in recent weeks.Reuters contributed to this report.