A mother killed by hate

<img src="xenophobia.jpg" alt="A mother killed by hate">

You will find few sane people who disagree that there is rampant xenophobia in America, exacerbated by the fervent rants of people like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, against Middle Easterners. Muslim Americans are the new target of paranoid conspiracy theories, mass generalizations, violence and bigotry, and this was made clear recently with the death of Shaima Alawadi.

Shaima Alawadi was an Iraqi woman living in El Cajon, California, a wife and a mother. She was found this past Wednesday by her teenage daughter, unconscious, brutally beaten and unresponsive. Mrs. Alawadi was placed on life support, which was removed Saturday. Shaima Alawadi was 32 years old and leaves behind a husband and her five children, who range in age from 8 to 17.

Fatima Al Himidi, the daughter who discovered her mother’s unconscious body, told a CNN affiliate that a note filled with hate had been left at the house a week ago. In part, the note read “This is our country, not yours, you terrorists.” Shaima Alawadi did not take the note seriously, according to Fatima, who said “So my mom ignored that, thinking (it was) kids playing around, pranking. And so the day they hurt her, they left it again and it said the same thing.”

Fatima became highly emotional while speaking with the CNN affiliate, and as she began to cry, she asked the assailants why. “Why did you take my mother away from me? You took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it? I want to know. Answer me that.”

CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, stated that the family came to America from Iraq in the mid 1990’s. Hanif Mohebi, executive director of San Diego’s CAIR chapter, did not know exactly when the family moved to El Cajon, which has one of the largest Iraqi communities in America.

The right wing calls CAIR a group that supports terrorism, is trying to implement Sharia law in America and appeals to the paranoid delusions of the fringe with their rhetoric. The right wing, the far right, does not differentiate between peaceful Middle Easterners, or the majority, and the Taliban or al Qaeda. The language used by the right almost guarantees these types of crimes. If you fill your followers’ heads with generalities, lumping everyone with brown skin and a Muslim “sounding” name into the same group as Bin Laden, you create people who fear all Middle Easterners and Muslims, people who brutally beat a wife and mother, leaving her unconscious body for her teenage daughter to discover.

Shaima and her family came to America in the 1990‘s, probably for the same reason millions and millions of people come here from other countries. They wanted a better life for their children, better employment, less violence and more freedom. Thanks to the far right hate and fear mongering, what they actually experienced last Wednesday was a sorrow so profound that they will never be the same. An eight year old child, ANY child, should not have to bury their mother after she was brutally beaten because of her name and ethnicity.

This is a tragedy that must affect us all. Understand that the hatred of all Middle Eastern people is NOT acceptable in America, and remember that we have candidates for president who refuse to hire Muslim-Americans, who “pal around” with Pamela Geller and who, if given the chance, would make it very difficult to live as a Muslim in America. All conservatives are not xenophobic. However, there is a pervasive current of rage and fear directed at the Muslim-American community, and Shaima Alawadi is the most recent victim of that rage and fear.

Shaima Alawadi is a name we must remember, and we must remember her daughter, Fatima’s heart wrenching question: Why?

Thanks to CNN for contributions to this article.

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Posted by on March 26, 2012. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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4 Responses to A mother killed by hate

  1. Scott Amundsen Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

    We are in serious danger as a country of drowning in a sea of rage and hate if people do not stop viewing everybody who is the slightest bit different from them in any way as “the other.” That is a label that seems to give some people license to commit all sorts of acts of brutality against their fellow human beings for no reason other than what they look like.

    Islam did not attack us on 9/11. Terrorists did. Even President George W Bush, in a speech shortly after the attacks, knew enough to make the distinction between the extremists and your Muslim neighbors down the street. Yet the hate seems to have developed a life of its own and if anything has grown in the last eleven years.

    Nothing good comes from hate. Nothing. And some Americans would do well to remember 9/11 and what hate did to us that day and realize that it is a two-way street.

  2. Connie Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Citizens of the USA have not learned their lessons. I thought that we would when we discovered the atrocities committed in the camps where we imprisoned loyal Japanese/American citizens whose only crime was to have a skin color other than white. Now?

    Scientists postulate humans will not survive the weather changes coming our way. Based on the amount of hate being spewed about I’m not so sure that is a bad thing.

  3. Mary Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    El Cajon used to be a poor and racist area being so close to Mexico with no particular means of local commerce. My heart hurts when I hear these things happening. You are so right Erin. Generalizing brown people in a group as threatening creates indirect rage. I want to teach them that their families that violence solves nothing. The culture of violence scares me. Violence scares me.

  4. michalekalin81 Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings but the title of this story sucks. “A mother killed by hate”? Could have been about anything.

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