|Women in mourning cry outside a memorial service for Shaima Alawadi held at the Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib Center in Lakeside, California March 27, 2012. REUTERS|
DEARBORN — Arab Americans are still grieving over the gruesome death of a former Dearborn woman. Shaima Alawadi, 32, of El Cajon, California was found brutally beaten in her home Mar. 21, then sent to a hospital where she died. Days leading up to the beating Shaima received a threatening note. When her body was found in the home a similar note appeared near it calling her a terrorist and telling her to go back to her country. Alawadi wore the traditional Islamic headscarf, and is Iraqi.
The FBI has now launched an investigation into the case, and is not ruling out the possibility that it could be a hate crime. On Wednesday and Thursday funeral services were held at the Karbala Center in Dearborn where family members of the woman were spotted weeping.
A rally will be held on Mar. 30 at 3 p.m. outside Dearborn City Hall to stand in solidarity with her family. "We left Iraq to escape terrorists, but now we find ourselves as Muslims living in fear of them here," Louie Almoswe, a relative of the victim said. Alawadi's uncle was killed in Iraq by Saddam Hussain's regime.
|Family members of Alawadi and community members attended a funeral service on her behalf this week at the Karbala Center in Dearborn. |
PHOTO: Natasha Dado/TAAN
Almoswe has received calls from Iraq with relatives asking what's going on in the states in terms of Muslim bigotry. Almoswe's son is only 12, but already knows about the hate surrounding Muslims in America. "I feel bad," he said at the funeral service. "I'm worried about my children going to the store," said Louie who’s afraid they will be profiled.
Imam Husham Al-Husainy of the Karbala Center said the victim's father was once a cleric at the Center, and remembers meeting the victim when her family first emigrated to Dearborn in 1993. He says his daughters were friends with her. He describes the victim’s family as conservative and peaceful. A large sign written in Arabic stood outside the Center this week urging drivers to attend the rally Friday. Al-Husainy questioned the media attention African American Trayvon Martin who was killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch authority has received in comparison with the Alawadi case. He says Martin's case even caught the attention of the president, who spoke publically about it. "President Obama got involved in Trayvon's case. We expected him to get involved in this minority woman's case in the same way," Al-Husainy said.
Trayvon was wearing a hoodie at the time, and "Hoodies and Hijabs" rallies have been held around the nation linking the two deaths, with many calling Alawadi the Arab Trayvon Martin.
Al-Husainy said recent world events targeting Muslims such as Qur’an burning and soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of Muslims is burning bridges between communities. As a local leader he says people in his community don't feel safe now, and there is much tension. "With this kind of killing, there is more tension in the atmosphere. My community does not feel comfortable with these kinds of events surrounding them," he said. A discussion on Alawadi is also being held Friday 8 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Detroit. For more info call 313.999.4420.