Iraqi-American Shaima Alawadi was found severely beaten in her San Diego-area home this past Wednesday next to a note that said “go back to your country, you terrorist.” After several days in the hospital, Alawadi’s family took her off life support at 3 p.m. on Saturday, the Associated Press reports.
The mother of five who wore a hijab had received a similarly threatening note earlier this month, but did not report it to authorities. According to the Detroit Free Press, her seventeen year old daughter said her mother thought the first note was a prank.
“Our community does face a lot of discriminatory, hate incidents and don’t always report them,” said Hanif Mohebi, director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “They should take these threats seriously and definitely call local law enforcement.”
Alawadi has lived in the United States since the mid-1990s. Her family lived in Michigan before recently moving to El Cajon, a San Diego-area community that is home to the second largest Iraqi immigrant community in the United States.
Alawadi’s husband has worked as a private contractor to the United States Army. He served as a cultural adviser to soliders training for deployment in the Middle East.
“A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that,” said Lieutenant Mark Coit. “We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.”
People expressing shock, outrage, and sadness on social media are more sure that this was a hate crime, and have compared it to last month’s killing of Florida teen Travyon Martin. “Hoodies, head scarves, mini skirts, gender, skin color. These should not be excuses for violence,” proclaimed a Facebook group entitled “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi.”
“Regardless of what the facts are of Shaima Alawadi and Trayvon Martin cases- racism is alive and well in the US. You know it. I know it,” tweeted Linda Sarsour, the Advocacy and Civic Engagement Coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities and ACCESS. Sarsour spoke at UM-Dearborn this past September during the university’s Sept. 11 series.
The Michigan Journal will provide updates as more information becomes available.