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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.