#MuslimLivesMatter Trends as Twitter Criticizes Media Coverage of Chapel Hill Shooting

Chapel Hill Shooting Victims - H 2015

Three Muslim students were killed in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday and Twitter users used social media to critique media coverage of the crime.

Three Muslim students were shot and killed on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after turning himself into the police.

The three victims were Deah Barakat, 23; his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Barakat was a second-year student at University of North Carolina's School of Dentistry and his wife had planned to start dental studies at UNC in the fall. Razan was a student at N.C. State University.

According to a widely circulated Facebook post, Hicks was an atheist supporting "anti-theism."

Chapel Hill police said they think the crime was part of a parking dispute; the victims and Hicks were neighbors.

Photo of Craig Stephen Hicks. Credit: Associated Press

"Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act," said Chapel Hill police chief Chris Blue. "We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly."

#MuslimLivesMatter, reminiscent of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, began trending on Twitter following the shooting. Twitter users expressed frustration over what they felt was a lack of media attention to the crime, and also used the hashtag to commemorate the victims, two of whom were newlyweds. All three victims were philanthropists, involved in an organization that helped feed the homeless. Barakat provided dental care to special-needs children in Palestine.

#ChapelHillShooting and #3Muslim also trended on Wednesday morning. The hashtags became a public forum to discuss the context in which national conversation treats both alleged murderers and victims based on race and religion.