Shaima Alawadi, Iraqi woman murdered in CA

*Trigger warning*

This is just completely heartbreaking. Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi who had recently moved to San Diego from Michigan, was found in her home last week severely beaten and next to a note that said, “Go back to your country.” Alawadi died in the hospital on Saturday.

Alawadi, a mother of five, had been hospitalized since her 17-year-old daughter found her unconscious Wednesday in the family’s house in El Cajon, police Lt. Steve Shakowski said.

The daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, told KUSI-TV her mother had been beaten… and that the note said “go back to your country, you terrorist.”

Addressing the camera, the tearful daughter asked: “You took my mother away from me. You took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it?”

Police said the family had found a similar note earlier this month but did not report it to authorities.

Al Himidi told KGTV-TV her mother dismissed the first note, found outside the home, as a child’s prank.

A family friend, Sura Alzaidy, told UT San Diego ( that the attack apparently occurred after the father took the younger children to school. Alzaidy told the newspaper the family is from Iraq, and that Alawadi is a “respectful modest muhajiba,” meaning she wears the traditional hijab, a head scarf.

That a Muslim family from Iraq would not report a threatening note to the police is not surprising. When your community has been the target of intense racial profiling and been portrayed in the media as criminals, especially since 9/11, it makes sense you wouldn’t trust law enforcement.

Alawadi’s family had recently moved to an area that is considered one of the most popular places for Iraqi immigrants in the US to live. That community is understandably concerned after what looks like a hate crime targeting one of their own.

The details of this case are still being uncovered, and it has not been definitively labeled as a hate crime, though the notes are certainly terrifying. Alawadi’s murder deserves attention on its own, but the targeting of a woman who wore the hijab also resonates with the murder of Trayvon Martin, whose hoodie has been brought up as provocation for the crime. Both cases remind us of the dangers of vilifying certain ways of dressing in public. Both Black men in hoodies and Mulsim women in hijabs have been set up as threatening, secretive, dangerous. These views can apparently serve as justifications for murder for some very broken people. Both cases are isolated separate acts of violence, and both victims deserve our thoughts and prayers. Both also speak to our particularly racist culture of violence.

My heart goes out to Alawadi’s family and community during what must be an incredibly difficult time.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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