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Why Has Obama Declined to Comment on Chapel Hill Murders?

February 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

He didn't hesitate to speak out after other high-profile shootings.

As the nation continues to soul-search after the killings of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, the Muslim-American community is looking to public officials to provide leadership to combat rising Islamophobia and ensure the safety of all citizens. 

Some politicians have been quick to offer condolences, such as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim-American elected to Congress. Even former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offered his remarks in a brief tweet on Wednesday, saying the victims were “with the angels.”

One voice that has been missing is President Obama's. The White House has not issued any statements on the matter. On Thursday, a reporter questioned Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the case:

REPORTER: One is, has the President been briefed on the situation in Chapel Hill with the shootings and the deaths of those Muslim students? And does he have any reaction—does the White House have any reaction?

JOSH EARNEST: There’s no specific reaction from the White House. I know that this is something that local law enforcement is investigating. I know that they, based on published reports, they have a suspect in custody. And I know that part of that investigation will include the circumstances that may have led to this act of violence and that will also include the investigation of questions about what motivation this individual may have had. So this is the very beginning of an ongoing local law enforcement investigation, and we’re going to await the results of that investigation before we say anything.

REPORTER: So he’s not been in touch with the families or anything at this point?

JE: No, he has not.

The underlying principle is that the President has not commented on the matter because it's under investigation, and the administration is waiting for the investigation to conclude. But Obama showed no such hesitation after a number of other high-profile murders.

Here's a selection of his remarks after the Aurora, Colorado massacre:

“We’re still gathering all the facts about what happened in Aurora, but what we do know is that the …read more


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