Craig Hicks, the Chapel Hill, N.C. man who has confessed to the murder of three young Muslim American students, has been defined in news stories most consistently through two attributes: his vocal atheism and his passionate support for gun rights.
Yet the #muslimlivesmatter hashtag that emerged right after the shootings and the father of two of the victims have painted a portrait of a man defined more by Islamophobia than by anything else. Islamophobia is a real and important issue, whatever role in played in Hicks’ actions. But a little history shows that the story of Muslims in America is longstanding and complex—and that they have not always been rejected nor excluded by the white, Christian majority, even in the Carolinas.
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