(RNS) Deah Barakat took my class “Islam in the Modern World” at North Carolina State University a few years ago. He was curious about Islamic history and contemporary spiritual and political movements, and he was great in class discussions. I’ve taught thousands of students in the last 11 years here, but Deah stood out for his enthusiasm, kindness, calm demeanor, and obvious charisma.
Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were the very best of people.
Although Muslim reform may seem like an oxymoron to those who see Islam only through the lens of graphic violence, Muslim reformers have been in the sights of jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda for years. Their increasingly bold public stance has made them the natural enemy of those who seek to squeeze followers of Islam into a tight-fisted sectarianism at war with the entire infidel world.
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