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Friday, February 13, 2015

A Weeping Heart

Three students were murdered -- executed -- this week near the University of North Carolina campus. One was a dental student, one was about to start dental school, and the other was a student of art.

By all accounts, all three were wonderful, kind, generous and compassionate young people. Two of the students had recently married and were just beginning their lives together. The two women were sisters. All were known for their dedication to helping others.

The students also happened to be Muslims, American-born, but Muslims nonetheless. Were they murdered because of their religion, or because, as their 'alleged' killer has stated, of a dispute over a parking place? The students -- Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha -- were shot in the head, execution style.

Regardless of the reason for the killings, the world has lost three amazing young people whose untimely and unnecessary deaths have touched me deeply. Barakat planned to make a second trip to Turkey and, along with 10 other dentists, provide much-needed dental care and oral hygiene instruction to Syrian refugee students of Salaam School. Then they planned to visit neighboring schools and refugee camps to distribute tooth brushes and tooth paste. They wanted to raise funds to buy supplies for local dentists and dental clinics. And they hoped to inspire pre-dental students to accompany dentists who don't speak the local language, to serve as translators and to assist with dental procedures.

How many of us give a thought to having a tooth brush and tooth paste, or being able to see a dentist when necessary? Yet for the refugees who fled the civil war in Syria, dental hygiene is a luxury. Barakat was working to do something about this, to make a difference in the lives of suffering people.

The world has lost three caring and compassionate young people. Their Muslim faith was undoubtedly important to them, but it was just part of who they were. More than anything, they were good people working to make the world a better place. I, with many others, mourn their passing. Their loss has touched me deeply. My heart weeps for them and for the world that desperately needs more people like these three, people to counteract some of the hatred and negativity and violence so prevalent these days.  We hear so much about Muslim terrorists and radicals like Boki Haram and ISIS that terrorize and murder innocent people in the name of Islam. These three young Muslims were living lives dedicated to ending the suffering of others.

If you would like to help support the dream of Barakat and others, please consider donating to