Friday, November 9, 2012

The death of Shaima Alawadi

It was the cause celebre for some time. Until it wasn't.

From the Huffington post:

March 24, 2012, EL CAJON, Calif. ­ A 32-year-old woman from Iraq who was found severely beaten next to a threatening note saying "go back to your country" died on Saturday.

Hanif Mohebi, the director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met with Shaima Alawadi's family members in the morning and was told that she was taken off life support around 3 p.m.

"The family is in shock at the moment. They're still trying to deal with what happened," Mohebi said.

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 on the head repeatedly with a tire iron, 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.

Investigators said they believe the assault is an isolated incident.

"A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that," Lt. Mark Coit said. "We don't want to focus on only one issue and miss something else."


Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, 4/2/12

El CAJON, Calif. -- This day's English lessons for Iraqi immigrants at Cuyamaca College involved learning how to talk about bad news.

From their text, "Day by Day: English for Employment Communication," the 25 students repeated dialogue wrapped around common occurrences: "I lost my wallet" and "My husband got fired from his job."

But the students had a horrific piece of real news on their minds: the March 24 death of an Iraqi immigrant who had been bludgeoned with a tire iron in her home three days earlier. A note near her bloodied body called her a terrorist and told her to "go back to your country."

"They can't stop talking about it," said the instructor, Hayfa Dalali, an immigrant from Baghdad. "They just keep saying: 'She was a mother of five, from a nice family, in a safe neighborhood.'"

Predictably, the unsolved killing of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi has led to heightened concern among some women about their safety.

But in this working-class suburb east of San Diego, the nation's second-most-populous community of Iraqi immigrants, the fear does not seem to spring from a belief that the killing was a hate crime committed by a predator stalking Iraqis. ...

Officials of the San Diego branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council have urged residents not to jump to conclusions and to wait for the police to find the killer. So did Imam Sharif Battikhi at a memorial service for Alawadi at the mosque in nearby Lakeside


There were vigils in her honor.

Attempts were made to tie her death in with Trevon Martin. Both became potent symbols of the "inherent racism" of American society. Our local AROC (Arab Resource organizing center) also planned a vigil.

Bradley Manning/ Justin Herman Plaza San Francisco
Vigil, Procession, and Speak Out

On March 21st Shaima Alawadi, 32, a mother of five, a devoted wife, and an Iraqi refugee who fled violence there in 1995 was found lying on her kitchen floor in a puddle of her own blood, She had been viciously beaten with a tire iron. By her body was a note saying "Go back where you came from terrorist"

Shaima's attack and death come on the heels of the massacre in Afghanistan of 17 innocent civilians, mostly women and children, by a "rogue" soldier who "snapped" after previously serving three tours of duty in Iraq.

Join us on this occasion to remember Shaima and to address the aftermath of 9/11, the war on Iraq, and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments that are at the core of this terrible incident.

It is important to touch on these issues and educate the public about the misunderstandings and mistreatment the Arab and Muslim communities go through in this country.

Bring red and white flowers

Then it was abruptly cancelled. Without explanation


Bradley Manning/ Justin Herman Plaza San Francisco
Vigil, Procession, and Speak Out


Sadly, Shaima Alawadi's death only concerned people as long as she could be used as a symbol. But as increasing amounts of evidence pointed to domestic violence as the cause of her death, the local Muslim community was just as happy to sweep it under the rug.

Finally, there may be justice for Shaima. Interestingly enough, neither AROC nor CAIR followed up on this story, or informed their email lists of the new developments. Their silence is complicity, not only in Shaima's death, but in the deaths of all women who are abused at home. CAIR and AROC are only concerned with exploiting the deaths of these women to advance their own political agendas, turning a blind eye to issues such as domestic violence, underage marriages, and the subjugation of women. Shaima again was exploited in death, just as she had been exploited in life. Shaima was a 32 year old woman with a 17 year old daughter. Do the math.

Husband held in killing of Iraqi-American woman

L CAJON, Calif. (AP) - The husband of an Iraqi-American woman whose beating death initially appeared to be a hate crime was arrested on suspicion of murder in what police described Friday as an act of domestic violence.

The killing of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi drew international attention in March when the couple's 17-year-old daughter told reporters that she found a note by her mother's bludgeoned body that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist."

Kassim Alhimidi, 48, was taken into custody Thursday after being called into the police station, said El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman.

Police said there were no other suspects. Redman declined to comment on the evidence or elaborate on a possible motive.

"Criminal investigations build, evidence builds, and you reach a point where you have enough evidence to move forward, and that's what happened in this case," he said.

Alhimidi went to Iraq for about two weeks to bury his wife and returned voluntarily, Redman said. Police did not try to prevent him from leaving the country because he was not a suspect at the time.

At the burial in Najaf, relatives wept uncontrollably. Alhimidi and the 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, fainted as the body was lowered into the grave.

Kassim Alhimidi was publicly silent for six days after the body was found, while his children spoke often with reporters.

To AROC AND to CAIR: Justice begins at home. If you refuse to take a stand on these issues that are vital to the health and to the safety of our community- you will lose half your members. you've already lost me.


  1. A 32 year old woman was married to a 48 year old man, and they had a 17 year old daughter together.

    Shaina's husband was 16 years older than her. Shaina had her daughter with a 31 year old man when she was 15.

    See a problem here? And dont even try and tell me its "cultural differences".

  2. On Dec 15 at the MPAC conference at All Saints Episcopalian Church in Pasadena, one of the young female speakers, a domestic abuse worker in New York went against the grain and spoke of Shaima with her picture on a screen. She described how the community had rallied around her and her family when it was thought Shaima was the victim of a hate crime then disappeared when the truth came out.

  3. Iraqi national Kassim Alhimidi was convicted by a jury this afternoon in San Diego for murdering his wife Shaima Alawadi. When the verdict was read, Alhimidi began waving his finger as if to say, No". members of his family rose and began shouting, first expletives in English, then in Arabic. At least one arrest was made. (Alhimidi's son). Alhimidi then began yelling in Arabic as he was handcuffed and taken from the courtroom.

    The below CBS News link has a video of the verdict and reaction (viewer warning as to language).

    This case raised a furor when it broke because the family claimed an intruder was responsible and that the motive was a hate crime. During the subsequent investigation, it was revealed there was strife in the family, first over an attempted arranged marriage for a daughter, coupled with Alawadi's desire to divorce her husband. It initially became a cause celebe combined with the Treyvon Martin case, and the phrase Hijabs and Hoodies became widely used to refer to both cases.