Following the FBI’s decision to investigate the deadly shootings of three Muslim students in North Carolina, President Barack Obama spoke out against religious discrimination in a statement on Friday.
“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. “The FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated.”
The remarks come after Muslim leaders across the United States denounced the Feb. 10 murders in Chapel Hill and the Obama administration received mounting criticism for not speaking out more forcefully about the situation.
Speaking alongside Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the silence of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State John Kerry was “telling.”
“If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent toward you,” Erdogan said, condemning Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who was arrested for the crimes. “I ask Mr. Obama, where are you, Mr. President?
Hicks has been charged with the murder of Deah Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University. Local police say the shooting was a result of a parking dispute. The FBI is looking into whether Hicks killed the three because they were Muslims (the women wore headscarves), which is a hate crime. Hicks, who turned himself in, is a self-proclaimed atheist who expressed anti-religious views on his Facebook page.