American Palestinian Lives Matter

9 Apr

mai abdul rahman                           April 2015

Deah Shady Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha dancing on their wedding day

Deah Shady Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha on their wedding day

On March 22nd, 60 American Palestinian community members and leaders, gathered at the Ramallah Club, in Vienna, Virginia, to honor the short life of three promising youth who were killed “execution style, a bullet in every head,” last February in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Coalition of Palestinian American Organizations (CPAO), organized the event; to honor the traditional forty days “Arba’een” communal mourning that marked the passing of the three young Arab Americans.

Deah Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad Abu Salha (21), and Razan Mohammad Abu Salha (19), were shot dead in their own home for reasons no one has yet been able to explain or rationalize.  While few in the US recognize that Yusor and Razan are of Palestinian decent, the American Palestinian community from the onset was well aware of this omitted fact that was largely ignored by the media. So, it was not surprising to see Saeb Erakat the chief Palestinian negotiator, and Ambassador Maen Areikat, the PA’s Washington, DC representative among those who came to commemorate the tragic death of the three young Arab Americans. Deah Shady Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan  Abu-Salha

The event was largely focused on reiterating the laudable character, citizenship, and community service of the three young victims. Said Durrah, a friend of the victims spoke of their admirable characters, their love of life, and dedication to their community. He said they cherished their country, sincerely cared for those in need, and wanted to make a difference in the world. Dr. Erekat and Ambassador Areikat, offered their condolences and respect to the victim’s family and community.

Arab Anti-Discriminatory Committee president, Samer Khalaf took the opportunity to warn the community of the substantial rise in the number of hate crimes against American Muslims and Arab Americans in the US. He also explained that Muslim and Arab haters in the US do not distinguish between Arab American Muslims or Arab American Christians.

Dr. Muhammad Abu Salha, the father of the three victims sent a special message that was read during the memorial service. In it he spoke of his anguish, pride, and sorrow for losing his two daughters and son in law on one fateful hour. Abu Salha’s message was also inspiring and hopeful. He urged the American Palestinian community to ”fight hate with love, ignorance with tolerance and prejudice with acceptance, fairness and a genuine desire to know the other.”

While the gathering was contemplative and somber, all who were present took Abu Salha’s positive message to heart. His hopeful words were most inspiring and reflected the sentiments of a community that has for decades persisted despite their insurmountable hardships. His dignified determination to overcome echoed the perseverance of the Palestinian people, and spirited historical resolve to remain hopeful in the face of their common calamity.

One Response to “American Palestinian Lives Matter”


  1. Chief Palestinian Negotiator Cautions US Companies Operating in Israel’s Illegal Settlements | Peace for friend and foe - April 12, 2015

    […] young Arab Americans who were senselessly killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At the end of the memorial service, Saeb Erakat addressed the group. The informal discussion inevitably focused on the Palestinian […]

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