It is time to Unite.
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Honouring Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19)
On Tuesday Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot and killed in the town of Chapel Hill in the United States. Deah and Yusor got married less than two months ago. All three are said to have been exceptionally bright, warm, committed people who worked in service to help improve the lives of others. Deah was involved in organising humanitarian support for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
In Chapel Hill and around the world there has been a tremendous outpouring of grief, support and solidarity for both families of those killed. There are people rising in Chapel Hill and across the United States…and around the world, to say: it is time. We need to stop the killing.
We need to stop the killing of ALL human beings – not to stop the killing of Christians or Muslims, of men or women, of “westerners”, “Arabs”, “French”, “Jews”, “Americans”, “Us”, or “Them”. We need to stop the killing…of all human beings.
Suzanne Barakat, Deah’s older sister, speaks beautifully of her beloved brother and Yusor and Razan. They lived beautiful lives, and they had all the possibility of the future ahead of them.
Their lives were cut short by violence. They were executed with shots to the head. On the same day (Tuesday, February 10) 28 people including Deah, Yusor and Razan were killed by gun violence – murdered – in the United States. Since January 1 2015 1,410 people have been murdered/killed with guns in the US, including 62 children (the youngest a few months old, the oldest 11) and 212 teenagers (between 12 – 17 years old). There have been 25 mass shootings / killings, and 229 ‘accidental shootings’ including one in which a 2 year old child killed his mother while handling her gun in a store.
Here is a truth: if this had been done by a foreign ‘organisation’ or a disease the entire country would be demanding action and mobilising to confront it. It wasn’t. It was done by people in the United States themselves, overwhelmingly by men.
In Syria, Libya, Iraq, the Congo, Mexico, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Ukraine and elsewhere thousands more have died. Have been murdered. Often by our own governments – military – police. Often by organisations claiming to fight for a belief.
Now…I am writing to you. I am writing to you and to each and all of us, and together with millions more around the world, I am saying: It is time for us to mobilise. It is time for us to unite. It is time for us to recruit one another – not to join ISIS, not to join an army, a militia, or police. Not to go out and kill in the name of religion, defence, belief, truth or justice. It is time for us to unite, to mobilise, to recruit each other to say: enough.
It is time for us to end armed violence and war.
In memory and to honour Deah, Yusor and Razan – to honour the thousands more killed around the world – to honour every mother, every father, every daughter, son and child – it is time for us to stop the violence and stop the killing.
There are moments when people think of those who have inspired them. When people think about the lives of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others and think what they did was extraordinary. We see those who stood up for what they knew was needed and necessary, and who did so with vision, love, compassion, dedication, courage…and the very best of our humanity. We see them and we feel moved and inspired.
This is one of those times, but it is not a Gandhi or a King called upon to ‘rise’ or to mobilise and inspire us. It is ourselves.
Here is another truth. As a human being, I cried this morning as I listend to Suzanne speak of her brother; as I thought about him, his wife and her sister, and even the man – Craig Stephen Hicks – who killed them. As I thought about people living in the United States and other war zones around the world whose lives are cut short by a psychotic system, institutionalisation and acceptance of violence which is a disease that, like other diseases – can be ended and cured.
So here is my pledge. Here is my commitment.
To the families of Deah, Yusor and Razan I want to send more than my condolences. I want to say thank you – for the beauty of your family members. For how they lived their lives and who they were, which is an inspiration for all who are learning of them.
More than that: I want to dedicate myself to the growing global movement to end and abolish war and armed violence. The movement of millions rising.
And I want to ask you to join as well.
It is time. It is time for us to unite. It is time to abolish war. That is my pledge. That is my commitment.
In honour and memory, and celebration of the lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19). Presente. You will not be forgotten, and we will continue in the service in which you dedicated your lives – to create a better world for every human being; a world in which every single person has the right and opportunity to feel loved, to be safe, to be whole, to be unafraid. To live.
I am asking you to help us together make that world a reality.
To see the interview of