It’s been a year to the day since Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were killed in Chapel Hill.
All three young people—Deah and Yusor, who were married, and Razan, Yusor’s sister—grew up in Raleigh, and all three had studied at N.C. State. Nineteen-year-old Razan was in her second semester, studying architecture, while Deah, twenty-three, had graduated in 2013 and was enrolled in the dentistry program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Yusor, twenty-one, graduated from N.C. State in the fall of 2014 and planned to join Deah in the School of Dentistry at UNC.
The Technician, N.C. State’s student newspaper, dedicated today’s issue to their memories.
In a long piece, Technician editor-in-chief (and former INDY intern) Kaitlin Montgomery and managing editor Megan Ellisor speak with Deah’s older brother, Farris Barakat, as well as with Sister Mussarut Jabeen, principal of the Al-Iman school in Raleigh, which Deah, Yusor, and Razan attended as children.
From the story:
For Deah’s older brother, Farris Barakat, the year has been one of growth.
“I lost patience for some things after that,” he said. “I’ve heard that was one of the effects after something like that happens. I didn’t want to wait to do what I wanted to do, in a sense.”
He took the trip to Turkey for Project Refugee Smiles — the trip Deah didn’t get to make. He went on the Hajj pilgrimage with his mother, but felt death had followed him there.
“There was the incident where there was a big stampede that year, and we were on the fourth floor walking, and it was happening on the ground floor,” Farris said.
For Farris, daylight isn’t just a break from the sadness, but a gentle reminder of Deah, whose name means light.
“Sometimes, the nights are the worst … there are a lot of long nights,” Farris said.
Justine Hollingshead, NC State chief of staff for the vice chancellor and dean in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, said she is inspired by how the families have taken their loss as an opportunity to educate others in the community.
“The courage and the strength of the family is remarkable to me, to know that they’re grieving for the loss of their child or their brother or sister, and to put themselves out there to help us as a community to understand more has just been astonishing to me,” she said.
Jabeen explained that her sadness over the loss of Deah, Yusor and Razan is a valuable tool to teach the children of the Al-Iman School.
“What I want these children to understand is life is not stagnant; it keeps moving on, and the values that we have — it’s an ongoing thing,” she said. “You have to live these values, not just talk about it, not just write about it, draw pictures about it.”
Jabeen wears three green bracelets on her right arm bearing the names Deah, Yusor and Razan — one for each of them.
“If I wear one, then I know the other two will be saying, ‘How dare you wear for him and not for me?’” Jabeen said. “I keep hearing their voices, so I keep saying, ‘No, no, no, one for each. I have it, don’t worry.’”
Another piece reports on the Light House Project, an old house in downtown Raleigh once owned by Deah, turned community outreach center that is now run by Deah’s older brother, Farris.
A candlelight vigil will be held at N.C. State’s Stafford Commons at 6 p.m. today to honor Deah, Yusor, and Razan, and the university will hold events in their memories in the coming month.