This Tragic Death Needs More Attention

by Melanie Schmitz

Dozens of mourners flooded the street in front of a Dallas, Texas, apartment on Sunday for a candlelight vigil to take a stand against the recent murder of an Iraqi immigrant. Ahmed Al-Jumaili, 36, who had recently fled led his home country of Iraq to escape the growing threat of ISIS terrorists, had decided to follow his wife, who had traveled ahead of him more than a year earlier. He'd only been in the country for less than a month when he was shot. Few major outlets picked up the story until several days on the incident on Thursday, prompting Twitter users to react in outrage over Al-Jumaili's tragic death.

Sometime after midnight on Thursday, Al-Jumaili, his wife Zahraa, and his brother-in-law had walked outside to take photographs of the light snow that had begun drifting across the region, reported The Dallas Morning News. As the group stood in the parking lot of their apartment complex, four men, armed with rifles, took aim and began shooting, leaving eight bullets lodged in a nearby car and hitting Al-Jumaili an unknown number of times. He was rushed to the nearby Texas Health Presbyterian hospital where he died just hours later.

Said Dallas police Maj. Jeff Cotner, in a comment to The Dallas Morning News, "Just like all of us, a pretty snowfall brings the child out in us — you can just imagine the excitement between his wife and his brother and himself as they were enjoying the snowfall."

According to Cotner, police have not yet ruled out the possibility that Al-Jumaili's murder was racially motivated. Offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who might have information leading to an arrest, Cotner added that, other than grainy, black and white footage from a nearby security camera, which shows the four assailants entering the vicinity, the police have "little to go on", reported CNN. "We can't solve this crime alone," said Cotner in a statement on Friday.

As area police continue to search for suspects, the social mediasphere has erupted with calls for national media outlets to feature the story on a wider scale. Trending under various hashtags like #AhmedAlJumaili and #MuslimLivesMatter, many have pointed out the hypocrisy of covering ISIS footage and Middle Eastern terrorism, but skipping over Al-Jumaili's senseless murder.

It's a pointless crime, and part of a larger, horrific trend that doesn't seem to be going away, points out news site Vox. If the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter hadn't trended aggressively after the shooting of three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, back in February, how much coverage would the incident really have received?

If social media is a tool in the hands of the perpetually connected, then Twitter users must be the architects of greater social change. As growing anti-Islamic sentiment pervades the American public through media, entertainment, and dubious reporting, the death of Al-Jumaili may not be the last.