A young American Somali Muslim boy who led prayers at his local Mosque was hit by a car and ran over by a hateful murderer. His name was Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein. He died because he was a Muslim. He was fifteen years old and was the son of an assistant Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City. When he died he was leaving the mosque. This happened in December 2014, yet we were not as outraged as we were with the recent tragic deaths in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Why is that?
I have some thoughts on why we weren’t as outraged and how we can learn from this:
- Abdisamad was from the immigrant Somali Muslim community which can be perceived as not as connected to the wider American Muslim community.
- The person who killed Abdisamad was a Somali Christian. That makes it awkward since it was a immigrant American from Somalia. It doesn’t fit the “narrative” of White non-Muslim American hating Muslims, unlike the Chapel Hill shooting.
- Deah, Yusor and Razan were active in the national community and members of national organizations. They were part of MIST, they were active in their MSA, active with United Muslim Relief, etc.
- Abdisamad was son of African immigrants. This is a sad, but I believe that we have racism we don’t even know. We connected more with the Chapel Hill victims because they were “closer” to the “typical American Muslim family”. We probably didn’t mean to but we did not feel as close to the families of Abdisamad. May God forgive us.
- The family members of Deah, Yusor and Razan spoke extremely well in the media and were able to connect with various media outlets. This is where we as a community could have helped the family of Abdisamad. There were probably language barriers that made it difficult for his family to speak out.
We need to learn from this and to be fair in the future with the victim of any hate crime in America. The organizations that started scholarships, named charitable funds after the Chapel Hill victims, and the organizations that went on TV in honor of them should also remember Abdisamad and other victims like him who didn’t get as much attention but paid the exact same price: their life.
We must realize that the American Muslim community is very diverse and that there are key parts to the community who are not part of national organizations or do not fit the stereotypical American Muslim activist family.
May God have mercy on Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha. May God have mercy on all those who died for simply being Muslim. May God remove racism and stereotypes from our hearts and make us just and fair. Ameen!
I ask God to forgive me if I have offended anyone or said anything wrong. Ameen.