Did Writers Fall for a Hate-Crime Hoax in the Murder of Iraqi-American Shaimi Alawadi? - Tablet Magazine
Less than a month after the controversial killing of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old immigrant who fled her native Iraq in 1993, was found in her California home bludgeoned with a tire iron, breathing but barely alive. Next to her brutalized body was a terrifying letter: “Go back to your country you terrorist.” According to Alawadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, this wasn’t the first racist threat made against the family. A few weeks before the assault, a note left on the family’s car was blunt: “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”
The Washington Post noted the parallels between the Martin and Alawadi cases: “Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was shot, and Alawadi wore a traditional hijab.” This precipitated “hoodies and hijab” rallies on a number of college campuses across the country. At Columbia University, for example, an event sponsored by the Columbia Democrats, the Columbia-Barnard International Socialist Organization, and the Columbia Queer Alliance drew over 100 protesters, many wearing hooded sweatshirts and Islamic headscarves.
Three days after the attack, Alawadi was taken off life support, her body returned to Iraq for burial. The story provoked a torrent of outrage: It was, the New York Times reported, the “most-discussed topic worldwide” on Twitter; it spidered through Facebook; and online petitions protesting growing American Islamophobia proliferated. The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Alawadis’ hometown newspaper, marveled at how “social media exploded” in the wake of her killing.
….Last week, Kassim Al-Himidi, Alawadi’s husband, was arrested and charged with her murder. (He is pleading innocence.) Court documents obtained by local media outlets reveal a family in turmoil, where traditional religious values often collided with those of their adopted country. They disclosed that Alawadi, who was married at age 15, was in the process of filing for divorce from her husband. And the couple’s own daughter was said to be bristling at an arranged marriage, having recently jumped out of her mother’s speeding car after being discovered with an older, unapproved boyfriend.