Outrage Grows Over Beating Death of Iraqi Mother from California

A 32-year-old mother of five from San Diego has been taken off life support after being beaten unconscious in her own home by an intruder. The killer left behind a note: "Go back to your own country. You're a terrorist." 

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The shocking home invasion and beating of a 32-year-old Iraqi woman, a mother of five who emigrated to the U.S. twenty years ago, has resulted in her death. Shaima Alawadi was taken off life support at 3 p.m. on Saturday, according to a statement from the Council on American Islamic Relations. Machines had kept her alive since Wednesday morning, when she was found severely beaten and unconscious in the living room of her home in San Diego County by her 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Al Himidi.

The daughter told KUSI that her mother had been "beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron," the San Diego Union Tribune reports. The daughter was sleeping upstairs during the attack; by the time she went downstairs, the attacker, who entered the home by breaking a sliding glass door, was gone.

Local police told reporters, "During the initial stages of this investigation, a threatening note was discovered very close to where the victim was found," but would not disclose the contents. The Union Times quotes a family friend who said the note read, "Go back to your own country. You're a terrorist." It was the second such note left at the house, the daughter said. The first, found outside the home a week prior, wasn't reported by the family, who dismissed it as a kid's prank:

"A week ago they left a letter saying, 'This is our country, not yours, you terrorists,'" [Fatima] told KGTV. "So my mom ignored that, thinking (it was) kids playing around, pranking. And so the day they hurt her, they left it again and it said the same thing."

Nothing was taken from the home. El Cajon Police Lieutenant Mark Coit would not reveal whether or not they have any leads, nor would he yet confirm or deny the possibility that Alawadi's murder was a hate crime:

“Although we are exploring all aspects of this investigation, evidence thus far leads us to believe this is an isolated incident,” Coit said. “A hate crime is one of the possibilities and we will be looking at that. We don’t want to focus on one issue and miss something else.”

The outraged social media conversation has turned to Alawadi's hijab -- the traditional woman's head covering that would have made her an easily identifiable target for an anti-Islamic attack -- and its parallels to the hoodie sweatshirt worn by Florida teen Trayvon Martin when he was shot and killed last month by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. The hoodie, which has become a symbol of protest to Martin's killing, was infamously identified by Geraldo Rivera as being "as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as Zimmerman was.”

The number of angry tweets featuring both the words "hoodie" and "hijab" have been rapidly multiplying in the past 24 hours:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.