Three young people who happened to be Muslim were murdered by a man who happened to be an anti-theist. I can understand why this tragedy would become an international headline, but let’s take an objective look at the facts, as well as consider the concepts of causation vs. correlation.
Hicks is an atheist and anti-theist. Undoubtedly. And I think the response from atheists across the board has been to acknowledge this fact, express contempt for his actions, mourn for the victims and their families, and to explain that atheism can never be the CAUSE for anything. Yes, atheism is 100% correlated to this crime, regardless of the motives. But so are the facts that Hicks is white, male, a gun owner, American, and many other traits. None of these are inherently causal, but all are correlated.
The reason that atheism can’t cause anything is because atheism has no ideology, no tenets, no dogma or holy books or creeds. It’s just a lack of belief in gods. Even anti-theism is not anti-THEIST, because being critical of ideas isn’t the same as attacking people, even if many people have a hard time separating themselves from their beliefs.
If religion was in any way a motive for this crime, the cause can never be atheism. The cause would be Islamophobia (or anti-Muslim bigotry, if you prefer).