Fathers of slain Muslims: This was a hate crime

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Fathers of slain Muslims: This was a hate crime
Many are speculating the Chapel Hill victims' religion may have played a role in the incident.
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 11: Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, sits in the Durham County courtroom for his first appearance in the shooting deaths of three University of North Carolina students on February 11, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. Hicks has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and is being held without bond. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 11: Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, enters the Durham County courtroom for his first appearance in the shooting deaths of three University of North Carolina students on February 11, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. Hicks has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and is being held without bond. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: A picture of slain Muslim students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill, is seen at a makeshift memorial during a vigil at Dupont Circle in Washington,USA on February 12, 2015. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A makeshift memorial is made during a vigil at the University of North Carolina following the murders of three Muslim students on February 11, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after the February 10, 2015 slayings in the North Carolina university town of Chapel Hill which sparked outrage amongst Muslims worldwide. Police investigating the murders said they were studying whether the fatal shootings were religiously motivated, as calls mounted for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A candlelight vigil for murder victims Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha's sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Craig Stephen Hicks is accused of shooting the three students on Tuesday. (Al Drago/The News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
People stand before a makeshift memorial after a vigil at the University of North Carolina following the murders of three Muslim students on February 11, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after the February 10, 2015 slayings in the North Carolina university town of Chapel Hill which sparked outrage amongst Muslims worldwide. Police investigating the murders said they were studying whether the fatal shootings were religiously motivated, as calls mounted for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Dentistry students and others huddle together during a vigil at the University of North Carolina following the murders of three Muslim students on February 11, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after the February 10, 2015 slayings in the North Carolina university town of Chapel Hill which sparked outrage amongst Muslims worldwide. Police investigating the murders said they were studying whether the fatal shootings were religiously motivated, as calls mounted for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a shooting scene at a condominium complex near Summerwalk Circle February 11, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Police probing the murder of three Muslim students by a North Carolina man said Wednesday they were studying whether the slayings were racially motivated, as calls mounted for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after the February 10 shootings in the university town of Chapel Hill which sparked outrage amongst Muslims worldwide. Police emphasized that initial investigations indicated a dispute between Hicks and his victims over parking spaces may have been the catalyst for a shooting spree which claimed the lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Namee Barakat, father of Deah Shaddy Barakat(Back to camera), and his wife Leila Barakat leave after a press conference at Swift Creek Community Center February 11, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Police probing the murder of three Muslim students by a North Carolina man said Wednesday they were studying whether the slayings were racially motivated, as calls mounted for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after the February 10 shootings in the university town of Chapel Hill which sparked outrage amongst Muslims worldwide. Police emphasized that initial investigations indicated a dispute between Hicks and his victims over parking spaces may have been the catalyst for a shooting spree which claimed the lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Loved ones speak during a vigil at the University of North Carolina following the murders of three Muslim students on February 11, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after the February 10, 2015 slayings in the North Carolina university town of Chapel Hill which sparked outrage amongst Muslims worldwide. Police investigating the murders said they were studying whether the fatal shootings were religiously motivated, as calls mounted for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Several of the concrete bumpers at Building 20 in the Finley Forest apartment and condominium complex are marked 'reserved' on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C. The building was the scene Tuesday of a triple homicide in which resident Craig Stephen Hicks is accused in the shooting deaths of three students, two of whom lived adjacent to Hicks, possibly over an ongoing parking dispute. (Harry Lynch/The News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
A woman cries as she watches photos projected on a large screen of murder victims Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha's sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Craig Stephen Hicks is accused of shooting the three students on Tuesday. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: People hold a vigil at Dupont Circle in Washington on February 12, 2015 for three Muslim students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: People hold a vigil at Dupont Circle in Washington on February 12, 2015 for three Muslim students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Palestinian protester holds a poster showing three young Muslims who were killed in the US during a protest by Palestinians against terrorism on February 13, 2015 before a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Bilin, west of Ramallah. Deah Shaddy Barakat (L on the poster), his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were recently killed in North Carolina in the US. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, USA - February 12: People pray at the beginning of a vigil for Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, USA on February 12, 2015. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, USA - February 12: Friends and family members pray at a vigil for Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, USA on February 12, 2015. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: A man holds a placard during a vigil at Dupont Circle in Washington on February 12, 2015 for three Muslim students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man holds a placard during a vigil for three young Muslims killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at Dupont Circle on February 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. The three were killed by a neighbour in what police said was a dispute over parking and possibly a hate crime. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A young Muslim girl holds a candlelight during a vigil at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles on February 12, 2015 for the three Muslim students who were fatally shot in North Carolina. The families of three Muslim students shot dead by a white neighbor have reiterated calls for the killings to be treated as a hate crime. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Ture Nkrumah attends a vigil held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dupont Circle February 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to honor three young Muslim students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, who were recently shot to death in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Supporters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations hold a vigil in Dupont Circle February 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to honor three young Muslim students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, who were recently shot to death in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Kheira Benkreira (L) and Hasnia Bekkadja (R) attend a vigil held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dupont Circle February 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to honor three young Muslim students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, who were recently shot to death in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12 : Mourners and people from the Islamic Association of Raleigh attend a service at a nearby soccer field February 12, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Community members and loved ones gathered to mourn the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha who were shot Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12 : Mourners and people from the Islamic Association of Raleigh attend a service at a nearby soccer field February 12, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Community members and loved ones gathered to mourn the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha who were shot Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12 : Mourners and people from the Islamic Association of Raleigh attend a service at a nearby soccer field February 12, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Community members and loved ones gathered to mourn the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha who were shot Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: People hold a vigil at Dupont Circle in Washington on February 12, 2015 for three Muslim students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot dead at their home on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - The fathers of the three Muslim students shot in their Chapel Hill, North Carolina apartment spoke with The Associated Press before their funeral on Thursday, calling on Americans to understand that they died in a hate crime.

Craig Stephen Hicks is charged with first-degree murder in the shootings Tuesday of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

HOPES FOR JUSTICE

"I believe, hoping, praying hard that justice will be served and that at least he will face the death penalty. Going to an apartment, knocking on the door and shooting three innocent people - What other charge can there be? I can't imagine," Namee Barakat said.

WERE THEY TARGETED AS MUSLIMS?

Dr. Mohammad Yousif Abu-Salha said he's certain of it.

"The minute our daughter moved in after her honeymoon, she just got married Dec. 27, the minute she moved in and he saw her wearing the hijab and her friends came to visit and her sister went to visit, he began to pick up arguments over everything," Abu-Salha said. "My daughter Yosur, the newlywed, told us two or three weeks ago that she felt that neighbor hated them for how they looked and who they were."

"This is a moment of truth. I have just viewed their bodies. I would not make up facts here. She mentioned that in details. She felt that he was hateful and he did not like them, who they were and the way they looked," he said. "I call upon the American people and the world to realize this was a hate crime and to treat it as such."

CALLING ON PRESIDENT OBAMA

President Barack Obama must pay attention, Abu-Salha said.

"This is our country. We're here to stay. We want to make it safer for all the children of different religions and colors. The president needs to pay attention," he said. "They need to have an elaborate investigation. This is not a parking dispute. These children were executed."

BELONGING IN AMERICA

"This country has been very good to us and very generous and warm. We love living here. Our children belong here," Abu-Salha said. "We love everybody in this country. We love everybody in the world. We want the world to be safe. We don't want anybody to be hurt. And since we can only love as Muslims we expect love back. I don't see this is going to create any more problems if there are people who are strong enough to look at the way it is and look at the facts."

MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA

"The media does not represent America," Abu-Salha said. "The media represents 2 percent of America who owns money and influence. If a Muslim commits a crime, it's on the news 24/7 for two months. When we are executed in numbers, it's on the news for seconds."

REPRESENTING ISLAM

"We know that we have a lot of dark nights ahead of us," Abu-Salha said. "But we're believers. We're Muslim. We submit that God chose them when the time came. And we know that he chose them because they were so pure and innocent and too good to be here. We trust that. We believe they're martyrs. Anybody who dies for what they believe in and how they are and who are slayed unfairly, in our faith they are a martyr. They are teaching the world about our faith and who we are. This is Islam."

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