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Teacher Remembers Former Students, North Carolina Shooting Victims


It’s been almost one week since news broke about three murdered university students in North Carolina. Their alleged killer, a neighbor, is behind bars, but neither the police nor the FBI has given any clarity whether the killings of the three Muslims should be prosecuted as a hate crime.

A woman who provided Islamic education to all three victims when they were children talks about them to help provide a clearer picture of who they were. Mussarut Jabeen, principal of Al-Iman school, told the story in her own words from the state capital, Raleigh.

“Everybody addresses me as 'Jabeen,' or 'Sister Jabeen,' here. And I taught Yusor, I taught Deah, and I taught Razan.

"They would not let go any opportunity that they would get, whenever it comes to charity; doing good," said Jabeen. "Wherever it was needed. They would always find some opportunity to help out others in their own community and the community at-large."

"You can see that they have gone overseas to help out, and Deah, he just setup his campaign.”

Video message

The video plays. “My name is Deah Barakat. I’m a dental student at UNC, and I need your help. Have you ever felt helpless about the situation in Syria and felt like you can’t do anything about it? Well, this is your opportunity to help.”

“That’s what matters. That people remember," said Jabeen, "… for the good that he has done. He had a cause on his mind. He had a mission in his mind."

"Razan was very little when she was here, but she used to come to our school on Saturdays to help out. We have a class on Saturdays for the teaching of Quran, and she used to come and help out. So, that by itself, shows how much volunteerism was in her as a young lady. All of them … they wanted to come back and give back to their school," she said.

Beautiful memories

"All of a sudden, the first thing that came to my mind was Yusor. It’s because of the way that she carried herself at a very young age. She was very mature for her age, and a very happy kid. Very polite. Very gentle," said Jabeen.

"These children had great hopes; dreams. They had this sense of giving. That was their focus: that we have to follow the straight path. In such a short time in their lives, they accomplished so much that many can’t do in their lifetime," she said.

"All kids are wonderful, but there are some that are just outstanding.

"We need more people like that. And that’s why I say that it’s now more challenging for me; that’s a goal for me to have more Deahs and more Yusors and more Razans,” said Jabeen.

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    Arash Arabasadi

    Arash Arabasadi is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a decade of experience shooting, producing, writing and editing. He has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Ukraine, as well as domestically in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. Arash has also been a guest lecturer at Howard University, Hampton University, Georgetown University, and his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Ashley and their two dogs.

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