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Murder of Iraqi Woman in California Appears Motivated by Hate

Note near body said "go back to your country"; followed earlier threats to family

Common Dreams staff

Shaima Alawadi, 32 and a mother of five, has died after being taken off life support Saturday at a hospital in San Diego County.

Shaima Alawadi, 32 and a mother of five, has died after being taken off life support Saturday at a hospital in San Diego County, various media report today. She had be discovered severely beaten in her home by her daughter, 17 year old ..., on Wednesday. A note was discovered nearby that said "go back to your country".

Alawadi was an Iraqi who had emigrated to the United States in the mid-nineties, but only recently relocated to the town of El Cajon in the San Diego area. El Cajon is home to some 40,000 Iraqi immigrants, the second largest such community in the United States after Detroit. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the murder has all the indications of and should be treated like a 'hate crime'.

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According to local CNN affiliate KGTV News 10, in El Cajon, California:

Investigators confirmed late Friday a threatening note was found next to the victim. The victim’s family said that note was the second one left at the home in the last week.

Al Himidi said, "A week ago they left a letter saying this is our country not yours you terrorist, and so my mom ignored that thinking it was just kids playing a prank. But the day they hit her, they left another note again, and it said the same thing."

Al Himidi told 10News nothing was stolen from the home, and the only motive must have been hate.

Al Awadi immigrated to the United States from Iraq nearly 20-years-ago.

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CNN adds:

Hanif Mohebi, executive director of CAIR's San Diego chapter, said the family came to the United States from Iraq in the mid-1990s. He did not know when they moved to El Cajon, which has one of the nation's largest Iraqi community.

Alawadi and her husband have three daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 8 to 17, Mohebi said.

Fatima Al Himidi said nothing was stolen from the house, leading her to believe the attack on her mother motivated by hate.

"Why did you take my mother away from me? You took my best friend away from me," she said, choking with tears, in an interview with CNN affiliate KUSI. "Why? Why did you do it? I want to know. Answer me that."

Police would not say whether they were treating the case as a hate crime, saying they were "exploring all aspects of this investigation."

"Evidence thus far leads us to believe this is an isolated incident," Coit said in a statement.

But social media users quickly compared Alawadi's death to that of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, calling both hate crimes, and drawing a parallel between a hijab and a hoodie.

Martin was killed last month as he walked back to his father's fiancee's house in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to the convenience store. Police say he was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he was acting in self-defense and has not been charged.

The teen was unarmed, carrying a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea, and was wearing a hoodie.

On Sunday morning, the authors of the parenting blog, Momstrology, tweeted: "A teen murdered for wearing hooded sweater. An Iraqi woman beaten to death for wearing a head scarf. Our hearts ache for you."

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