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The murder of Shaima Alawadi took place on March 21, 2012 in El Cajon, California. Alawadi was a 32-year-old American citizen who had emigrated from Iraq in the early 1990s. She was beaten to death in her home.
Alawadi’s family fled Iraq after Saddam Hussein‘s government suppressed Shiite uprisings, and settled in Detroit in 1993. They moved to San Diego in 1996. Alawadi, a housewife who volunteered at the local mosque, had five children; her husband and brothers worked for the U.S. Army training soldiers who were to be deployed to the Middle East.
Alawadi’s daughter Fatima found her unconscious, having been brutally beaten, on the floor of their dining room the day of the murder. Next to her was a note which read “Go back to your country, you terrorist;” the sliding glass door was smashed. A similar note had been left a week earlier; although police were not able to immediately determine whether or not the murder was a hate crime, the note led them to consider the possibility. The cause of Alawadi’s death was determined to be severe head trauma. Her family took her off life support on March 24, and her body was flown to Iraq for burial.
The murder was compared to the shooting of Trayvon Martin that had taken place less than a month earlier. The hoodie that Martin was wearing was said to feed into racial profiling that led an armed civilian to shoot the unarmed teenager; Alawadi’s hijab similarly marked her as Muslim to the person who murdered her.