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Further investigate the case of Shaima Alawadi and prosecute the killer(s)

This petition had 417 supporters

(CNN) -- An Iraqi woman who was left brutally beaten in her Southern California home with an apparently xenophobic note beside her has died.

Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was taken off life support Saturday, said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that advocates for Muslim civil liberties.

She had been on life support since Wednesday when her teenage daughter found her unconscious in the living room of their home in El Cajon in San Diego County.

"During the initial stages of this investigation, a threatening note was discovered very close to where the victim was found," Lt. Mark Coit of the El Cajon police said.

Authorities would not specify what the note said. But Alawadi's daughter said it threatened the family to go back to Iraq and called them "terrorists."

Police said a similar note was left outside the family home earlier in the month, but the family did not report it.

"A week ago they left a letter saying, 'This is our country, not yours, you terrorists,'" the daughter, Fatima Al Himidi told CNN affiliate 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."

Hanif Mohebi, executive director of CAIR's San Diego chapter, said the family came to the United States from Iraq in the mid-1990s. He did not know when they moved to El Cajon, which has one of the nation's largest Iraqi community.

Alawadi and her husband have three daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 8 to 17, Mohebi said.

Fatima Al Himidi said nothing was stolen from the house, leading her to believe the attack on her mother motivated by hate.

"Why did you take my mother away from me? You took my best friend away from me," she said, choking with tears, in an interview with CNN affiliate KUSI. "Why? Why did you do it? I want to know. Answer me that."

Police would not say whether they were treating the case as a hate crime, saying they were "exploring all aspects of this investigation."

"Evidence thus far leads us to believe this is an isolated incident," Coit said in a statement.

But social media users quickly compared Alawadi's death to that of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, calling both hate crimes, and drawing a parallel between a hijab and a hoodie.

Martin was killed last month as he walked back to his father's fiancee's house in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to the convenience store. Police say he was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he was acting in self-defense and has not been charged.

The teen was unarmed, carrying a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea, and was wearing a hoodie.

On Sunday morning, the authors of the parenting blog, Momstrology, tweeted: "A teen murdered for wearing hooded sweater. An Iraqi woman beaten to death for wearing a head scarf. Our hearts ache for you."


The injustice of potentially placing the case on hold, as well as the disgusting act itself against the innocent life of Shaima Alwadi are the least of reasons as to why this petition should be signed and shared. The United States justice system protects the rights of all its citizens, and unfortunately the life of one of its citizens was inexcusably taken for the religion she practiced. Justice is what must be sought, justice is what must be made apparent.

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