Chapel Hill mayor: Muslim lives matter here
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The mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C., said Wednesday that the city was a place where “Muslim lives matter.”

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt made the comments a day after three Muslims were shot and killed in the city. One victim's father has called the killings a hate crime, and a Muslim civil rights group has asked for an investigation.

“I share strong feelings of outrage and shock with my fellow citizens and University students — as well as concerned people everywhere,” Kleinschmidt said in a statement. “We do not know whether anti-Muslim bias played a role in this crime, but I do recognize the fear that members of our community may feel. Chapel Hill is a place for everyone, a place where Muslim lives matter.”

He called the killings an “incomprehensible loss” and said he had confidence in the authorities investigating the crime.

Police allege that Craig Stephen Hicks shot and killed Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife Yusor Mohammad Barakat, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, on Tuesday.

Hicks had reportedly made anti-religion statements on social media. On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on police to investigate whether the shooting was motivated by bias.

The mayor’s statement echoed the use by some Twitter users of the hashtag #muslimlivesmatter.

Police officials said that their “preliminary investigation” had indicated the shootings were possibly motivated by an “ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.”

But the father of the two women called the killings a hate crime on Wednesday.

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Mohammad Abu-Salha told the Charlotte Observer Wednesday. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime.”