How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Does new evidence in the Shaima Alawadi murder change discussion about hate crimes?

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Shaima Alawadi

The murder of Iraqi immigrant Shaima Alawadi in late March sent ripples of fear through Muslim immigrant communities in the U.S., and internationally, after police announced they were investigating it as a possible hate crime due largely to a hateful note found next to her. But with police evidence now pointing elsewhere, the conversation surrounding Alawadi's death has shifted.

Comment-board discussions beneath news reports that police found a history of family troubles and a potential divorce have ranged from anti-Islamic cracks and talk of "honor killings" to a general dismissal of hate crimes and racial profiling. From one posted under a story in The Blaze by Justpeachy:

Hmm sounds like trying to kill two birds with one stone: a coverup for murder and trying to perpetuate the idea of “violence” against Islam. The left’s favorite dessert, served up–too bad for them the topping’s beginning to melt, just as some of it is on the Zimmerman/Trayvon case...

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Hate crime or not, why the killing of Shaima Alawadi carries special weight

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Shaima Alawadi

Police have yet to determine if the murder of Shaima Alwadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi American mother of five who was beaten to death last week, is indeed a hate crime. Alawadi died last Saturday of head injuries after enduring a brutal beating a few days earlier in her El Cajon, Calif. home, which appeared broken into; a note that family members found next to her read something along the lines of "go back to your country, you terrorist," as her daughter told media.

Her family said it was the second note of this kind they had found in a week. Alawadi's death is being investigated as a possible hate crime, but police haven't drawn any conclusions. Meanwhile, El Cajon's large Iraqi immigrant community is shaken, and the murder has resonated internationally.

Coming a month after the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed black boy shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, Alawadi's murder has drawn comparisons to that killing. There has been other violence against Muslims in the U.S. over the last decade, even against people perceived to be Muslim, like Indian Sikhs. But for a number of reasons, Alawadi's murder carries special weight for Muslims and Arab Americans. In this Q&A, Salam Al-Marayti of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles provides his take on why.

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'We are not the terrorists. You are.' (Video)

Whatever you think of television news interviews with crime victims, this interview with the 17-year-old daughter of Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi immigrant beaten to death in a possible hate crime in El Cajon, near San Diego, is so powerful that is is difficult to watch at times.

Fatima Alhimidi, who found her mother's severely beaten body in her home last week, spoke to the local station KUSI a few days ago while her mother clung to life in a San Diego hospital. She defiantly addresses a hateful note that she found next to her mother:

"I found her on the floor drowned in her own blood, with a letter next to her hear saying 'go back to your country, you terrorist.' We are not the terrorists. You are. Whoever did it. We don't know what color you are, but we do know one thing. You are not Christian, you are not Muslim, and you are not Jewish. You are someone without a religion, because if you know God, you would know God would not accept that."

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