A woman was beaten to death in California in the style of vigilante-ism of religious fanatics working in Pakistan. Here in North America, divinity changes into racism nurtured over centuries by the White Supremacists. This killing, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and other hate crimes against Native peoples, gays and people of colour, are getting a boost with the US ‘anti-terror’ campaign.
Muslim woman from Michigan beaten to death in California home
An Iraqi-American woman who recently lived in Michigan was found beaten to death at her home near San Diego in what might possibly be a hate crime. A note calling her a terrorist and saying she should go back to her country was left next to her body, according to family members.
The death on Saturday of Shaima Alawadi, 32, after three days in the hospital has prompted an intense outpouring of anxiety and outrage from some, especially among Arab-Americans and on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Some drew comparisons with the killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen shot dead last month in Florida.
“I’m really disturbed,” Suehaila Amen, president of the Lebanese-American Heritage Club in Dearborn, told the Free Press. “It’s quite frightening.”
Police told the San Diego Union-Tribune they are investigating her death in El Cajon, near San Diego, as a homicide.
“A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that,” Lt. Mark Coit of El Cajon police told the Union-Tribune. “We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.”
Alawadi, a mother of five born in Iraq, was found by her 17-year-old daughter on Wednesday.
“I found her on the floor… in her own blood with a letter next to hear head saying go back to your country you terrorist,” Fatima Al Himidi, told 10News, a TV station serving the San Diego area.
The woman and her husband were born in Iraq, moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, and recently lived in Michigan, according to an Associated Press report that cited the Union-Tribune. The victim’s husband had previously worked as contractors to help the U.S. Army train U.S. soldiers going to the Middle East.
Shaima wore a hijab, an Islamic headscarf. She had received a similar threatening note earlier, but ignored it, assuming it was a harmless joke, her daughter said.
“A week ago they left a letter saying this is our country not yours you terrorist, and so my mom ignored that thinking it was just kids playing a prank,” she told the TV station. “But the day they hit her, they left another note again, and it said the same thing.”
The city of El Cajon has a growing Arab-American population. Last night in Arab-American communities, “everybody was talking about” the death of Alawadi, Amen said.
At 33, Amen is roughly the same age as Alawadi and also wears a hijab.
“This is something that’s really scary,” Amen said. “For a woman like myself who wears a hijab, you’re an open target. You’re always looking over your shoulder because of how you’re dressed and because someone might have skewed perceptions of the community.”
On social media sites, people expressed concern she was killed because of her ethnicity and religion. Some compared her to Martin, the African-American teenager killed in Florida who was wearing a hoodie. They say that both were minorities killed, one for a hoodie, the other for a hijab.
A Facebook page was created Saturday called: “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi.” Hijabis is a term sometimes used by Muslims for women who wear hijabs. The Facebook page reads: “She could be your daughter, your sister, your friend. We cannot let the children in this country grow up in a world so full of hatred that a woman wearing a head scarf is afraid for her life, that a black kid wearing a hoodie is afraid for his life… We are all Shaima. We need a Million Hijab March.”
On the Facebook page, the words “this oufit doesn’t say ‘kill me’ on the label” is on a photo of a woman wearing a hijab.
Shaima’s death drew a response from a range of people, including Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, with the Orthodox Jewish group Chabad.
He wrote on Twitter this morning: “Outrageous that this murder happened in the USA! May Shaima Alawadis murderer be found & brought to justice.”
Paul Rieckhoff, the CEO of Iraq & Afghan Vets of America, wrote on Twitter: “As an Iraq vet, and as an American, I am beyond outraged by Shaima’s death. This could have been so many of my friends.”
Amen noted that the family of the woman had helped the U.S. Army.
“How much more American can you get than to serve the country with pride and honor,” Amen said.
“Shaima Al-Awadi’s murder, like Trayvon Martin’s, was a senseless murder based upon racial animus,” said Dawud Walid, an African-American Muslim leader from Detroit who is executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We must come together as a society to have frank discussions about the toxic rhetorical environment which we currently live in that leads to such wanton violence.”
The daughter of the mother told the TV station in San Diego:
“She’s such an innocent woman. Why? Why did you do that?…We’re not the terrorist. You are.” Contact Niraj Warikoo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-223-4792