The mainstream media have largely ignored the news of the execution style murder of three Muslim students in the US while the local police has downplayed the crime as a result of a parking dispute rather than a hate crime.

The social media activists have been trying to publicise the under-reported crime by using a hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter on Twitter similar to #BlackLivesMatter hashtag that went viral after the killings of several unarmed black Americans last year.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, all three of them were shot in the head and died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA  last Tuesday 10 February.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, a self-confessed atheist has been arrested and charged with the murders. He appeared before a judge and has been remanded in custody till the hearing set for early March.

Deah  was a second year dentistry student at the University of North Carolina and his wife Yusor was going to enrol in the same course later this year. Both got married just got married on 27 December.  Razan was a student of architecture at the North Carolina State University.

The father of the slain women, Mohammed Abu-Salha, a psychiatrist has said that his daughter had told him several times that they had a neighbour who was “ hateful” and kept a gun in his waistband that was intimidating.

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” he said. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization has called on law enforcement authorities to address speculation about a possible bias motive for the killing of the three young Muslims.

“Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.