Police have yet to identify a motive in the gruesome shooting death of three young Muslim men in a Fort Wayne, Indiana, house.
But the deaths have been acutely felt in the Muslim community -- and some observers worry that the triple killing is the latest manifestation of a tide of anti-Muslim prejudice gripping the country.
Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, Adam Mekki, 20, and Muhannad Tairab, 17, were killed “execution-style” on Wednesday, according to Fort Wayne’s public safety director Rusty York.
York told a local ABC affiliate, 21 Alive, that there was “no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime, or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever.”
He even noted that the house, rented out by a landlord who lives elsewhere, had become a place where young men of African descent often got together for parties.
The Fort Wayne Police Department did not offer The Huffington Post any additional comment about the suspected motive on Sunday.
Hamzah Sharif, the imam of the Islamic Center of Fort Wayne, did not mention a possible motive in a Facebook message about the young men’s funeral. He instead lauded the presence of the town’s other communities of faith at the service.
“All of [the] Fort Wayne community showed unity and solidarity against violence and stood together to pray for the three young men along with their families,” Sharif wrote.
Ahmed Abdelmageed, director of experiential education at Manchester University’s college of pharmacy in Fort Wayne, acknowledged that the deaths were an especially painful blow for Muslims, but warned against assuming it was a hate crime.
“‘Execution Style’ and the word ‘Muslim’ have certainly been forever ingrained in the minds of American Muslims and they trigger painful images of 3 beautiful souls lost for simply being Muslim,” Abdelmageed wrote on Facebook. “I caution however that the reason does not appear to be related to them being Muslim.”
But the incident comes amid a wave of anti-Muslim incidents in the wake of the November terror attack in Paris, increasing the possibility that the triple killing was motivated by prejudice.
Some people, many of them other Muslims, took to Twitter to question law enforcement’s contention that the crime was unrelated to the Islamic faith of the victims, and to call for an investigation of the killings as a hate crime.
Others expressed anger at what they say is the national news media’s inattention to the incident.
That Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has yet to publicly comment on the young men’s deaths is likely to fuel these suspicions. ThinkProgress noted that, by contrast, Pence has publicly offered condolences for a number of other violent incidents outside of the state in recent years, such as the August shooting of a TV correspondent and cameraman in Roanoke, Virginia.
MPower Change, a Muslim online activism group, has started a petition calling for the Fort Wayne Police Department to "conduct a full and comprehensive investigation" of the killings. The group is promoting awareness of the killings on social media with #OurThreeBoys.
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