Regarding the Feb. 12 news article “ Slain students mourned amid outrage, claims of hate crime”:
Deah Barakat was born Muslim. I was born Jewish. Regardless of our heritages he became a good friend of mine. Deah enrolled in dental school at UNC so that he could provide dentistry to poor children without dental care. He didn’t wait to finish dental school to live his vision.
While still in school he recently volunteered to provide dental care to underserved children in North Carolina. He also planned to travel to Turkey to provide dental care to Syrian refugees. He was a lovely compassionate human being.
Every time he saw me, he gave me a hug and a smile. He knew I was Jewish. I knew he was Muslim. It didn’t matter.
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People of all faiths are individuals. Some, like Deah, are loving, caring individuals who seek to make the world a better place. Others use religion as dogma to rationalize and gain support for their own agenda of hate.
I plead to my fellow American and world citizens to recognize people as individuals, not as stereotyped Muslims, Christians, Jews or political party advocates. Blame or praise individuals, not organizations, for their actions.
Deah had a life of service, family and caring ahead of him. The world will suffer by him not being here.