Several thousand demonstrators took part in a march in Qatar on Sunday to show solidarity with the families of the North Carolina victims Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha.
Also this weekend, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, comprised of 57 Muslim countries, said the murders reflected “rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts” in the United States. Yusuf Taha, an analyst with BBC Arabic, has been closely monitoring the international response.
Taha says that Sunday's demonstration was significant not only because of the large turnout, but also because protests are rare in Qatar’s capital city of Doha. According to Taha, thousands of residents of Qatar felt “compelled” to march in solidarity with the victims’ families, and to show their “condemnation and indignation at this act.” Describing the sentiments at the demonstration, Taha says many expressed frustration that the murders in Chapel Hill have not been called a terrorist attack.
“People in the Middle East have been wondering: if the West has been so quick to condemn the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris as a terrorist attack, condemning it, organizing that massive march the following weekend attended by world leaders, how come this does not happen when the victims are Muslims?” Taha explains.
Saudi Arabia released a statement, carried by their official news agency, condemning the triple homicide in Chapel Hill alongside a condemnation of this past weekend’s murder of two men in Copenhagen. “They are not condemning the killings in North Carolina separately,” Taha says, “and this somehow seems to go with the Saudi psyche of ‘let’s wait and see what the police conclusion will come to’ and also they don’t want to upset the U.S., their main ally.”
Taha says the rise of the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter illustrates the frustration of thousands of people across the Muslim world: “When it is a Western life wasted, the whole world comes to condemn it...people have been calling for equality in death, not just in life.”