Shaima Alawadi will return to Iraq having left nearly 20 years ago to seek a better life in America, according to the Iraqi government.
The 32-year-old Iraqi-American mother of five died over the weekend from wounds inflicted during a beating last week in her suburban San Diego, CA home. Her daughter found the body with a note nearby reading, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.” A note found the week before and ignored as a prank, according to family friends, similarly read: “You’re a terrorist. You should move back to your country.” Alawadi wore a hijab, a scarf covering her head in keeping with traditional Islamic custom. Police are investigating whether the killing constituted a hate crime.
Today, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari requested that Alawadi’s body be returned to Iraq for burial: “The government has ordered to transport her body from California to Baghdad,” he said during a press conference in Baghdad, refusing further questions.
A local imam from Dearborn, MI, where Alawadi previously lived, said she was the daughter of an Iraqi Shia cleric. The Detroit Free Press reported:
The body of Alawadi, a U.S. citizen, is currently being prepared to be flown to Iraq for her funeral, said Al-Husainy. Her father, Sayed Nabeel Alawadi, is a Shia cleric in Iraq, whose government will pay for shipping expenses of the body, he said.
Shaima Alawadi left Iraq in 1993 because of Saddam Hussein’s crackdown on the country’s majority Shia population after an uprising in 1991.
Suehaila Amen, a 33-year-old in Michigan who runs a Lebanese-American Heritage Club there, said the killing raised fears among Muslim-American populations:
This is something that’s really scary. For a woman like myself who wears a hijab, you’re an open target. You’re always looking over your shoulder because of how you’re dressed and because someone might have skewed perceptions of the community.
A social media campaign sought to show solidarity and alleviate fears by encouraging users to post pictures of themselves in hijab. “There should not be an outfit that screams ‘kill me!’ Hoodie or hijab, this needs to stop,” the Facebook page says.