Texas Muslims 'in fear' after murder of Iraqi man
An Iraqi man, who had fled violence in his homeland, was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas, as he watched his first ever snowfall.
Ahmed Al-Jumaili, who had only been in Texas for three weeks, ran out of his apartment after midninght last Thursday, to play in the snowfall with his brother-in-law, while his wife Zahraa Altaie took pictures.
He was then fatally shot in a hail of gunfire that left eight bullets lodged in a parked truck at the scene.
"The family was taking photos," Dallas police Jeff Cotner said. "That's the first time they had seen snow. A pretty snowfall brings out the child in all of us."
|He had a lot of faith in his future, a lot of faith in his destiny
- Al-Jumaili's father-in-law
Investigators are searching for four men in their late teens or early 20s seen on surveillance video walking from the complex last Wednesday.
However Cotner says Al-Jamaili's killing "doesn't appear to be a hate crime", adding that it is unclear if Al-Jamaili was targeted or if the suspects "haphazardly scattered shots" across the parking lot of the complex.
Al-Jamaili and his wife had been married just a month before she moved to Dallas, after her father was granted humanitarian refugee status.
Leaving behind strife in Iraq, she had settled with her family in an area of Dallas with a concentration of immigrants, particularly from the Middle East.
Al-Jumaili had saved money for more than a year for his move to the US, providing Internet connections to Iraqi homes. He arrived in February and the couple was reunited.
|Zahraa Altaie welcomes her husband to the US (LaunchGood fundraiser page)|
His father-in-law Mohammed Altaae told NBC 5 how he could not believe that his new son-in-law had escaped ISIS and other dangers in Iraq, only to die in a random and senseless shooting in Dallas.
"He was trying to find a decent job to start his life," Altaae said. "For a young man and a young woman, oh God, so many dreams together".
Altaae described Al-Jumaili as a man trying to do right by his family, as someone who was quick with a smile and faster with a joke.
"They wanted to have children and educate them well. It was the dreams of young people. He had a lot of faith in his future, a lot of faith in his destiny," his father-in-law added.
The shooting has sparked condemnation on social media for its lack of coverage, echoing scenes from the Chapel Hill shooting in February, where three young Muslim students were gunned down over a "parking dispute."
People have expressed their outrage under the same hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter.
Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslims in Texas are "in fear of their lives" following Al-Jumaili's death.
"I've received a number of calls from people saying they don't want to leave their homes," said Salem.
In Texas, hundreds of people protested earlier this year outside a Muslim conference in suburban Dallas, Salem noted, and protesters heckled and interrupted a Muslim rally at the Texas Capitol.
Abeer Hallak of Mesquite attended the rally and said she was surprised by the strident nature of the demonstration. Muslims need to express the tenets of their faith as a way of tamping down anti-Muslim fervour, she said.
"We're Americans here," Hallak said. "Our children were born here. This is our homeland."