I've mentioned my desire for more information on the brutal killing of Shaima Alawadi. And new information we are getting. First, let's review some of the recent stories about her murder. Here's the Daily Mail yesterday:
'One Million Hijabs for Shaima:' Women worldwide of all faiths post pictures of themselves in headscarves after race hate murder
Muslim mother-of-five Shaima Alawadi was found beaten and unconscious in her San Diego home last month in an apparent killing which officials described as a 'hate crime'.
Actually, officials didn't describe the killing as a hate crime, or a "race hate murder." Los Angeles Times last week:
Kassim Al-Himidi told reporters after an Islamic memorial service for his wife, Shaima Alawadi, that he wants to confront the person who bludgeoned her to death and left a threatening note telling her to return to their native country and calling her a terrorist.
"The main question we want to ask," Al-Himidi said in Arabic, with English translation provided by his 15-year-old son Mohammed, "is 'what are you getting out of this? Why did you do this?' "
Iraqi-American murder highlights anti-Muslim hate crimes
Shaima Alawadi’s Brutal Murder Highlights Anti-Muslim Activity in San Diego
The young mother’s killing is the latest in a disturbing increase in anti-Muslim incidents in and around San Diego. Community leaders are asking why, writes Jamie Reno.
And so on and so forth.
Here's the latest from the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Records hint Iraqi woman’s death not a hate crime
First off, did you read about her injuries? How could you say her death is not a "hate crime"? If hate means anything at all, it has to include bashing in someone's skull with a large object and beating her so badly that she dies from her injuries, right? Why would it only be a "hate" crime if the perpetrator had the wrong political opinions? I really question whether the media should adopt such phrases as "hate" crimes. It's completely Orwellian. If political activists want to categorize some vicious attacks as "hateful" and other vicious attacks as "loveful" or whatever, that's fine. But I really don't see the journalistic case for adopting such language.
Anyway, here's the body of the article:
Search warrant records obtained Wednesday in the beating death of an Iraqi-American woman show a family in turmoil and cast doubt on the likelihood that her slaying was a hate crime.
Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was apparently planning to divorce her husband and move to Texas when she was killed, a family member told investigators, according to the court documents.
The records, filed in El Cajon Superior Court, also reveal Alawadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, who called 911 to report the attack, was distraught over her pending arranged marriage to a cousin.
Oh yeah, it's some pretty salacious stuff. But while I have been nothing but skeptical about the direction the media were going in this case, I'm not sure if, uh, "hate crimes" are only committed against people with perfect families. But this next section of the report doesn't look too good for the hate crime theory:
A search of Fatima’s cellphone records shows that while she was being interviewed by investigators hours after the attack, someone sent the teen a text message that read, “The detective will find out tell them (can't) talk,” the affidavit states.
The story includes more details about the crime and what the family told police about the crime. There's a detail about a neighbor reporting a "skinny dark-skinned male ... wearing a dark blue or black hooded sweatshirt" who was running away from the scene of the crime.
We revisit the details of the "extremely violent" assault and learn that the threatening handwritten note was a copy, not the original. The daughter, we're told, had a previous run in with the police, on a report she was having sex in a car with a 21-year-old man. When her mother came to pick her up, the girl told her that she loved her before jumping out of the family's car while it was going 35 mph. At the hospital, she told staff she was being forced to marry her cousin and didn't want to. She refused to talk to police. She, her father and a brother are currently in Iraq for Alawadi's funeral.
It will be interesting to see how the media cover this story in the days to come. The San Diego Union-Tribune has received criticism for how it ran with the hate crime angle before there was evidence to support that theory. Obviously other media outlets did the same.
Now that the story is seen to be more complex, what should we look out for in media coverage? Religion News Service had done an interesting story about how Christians and others were fighting against the bigotry that they believed led to Shaima Alawadi's murder by wearing hijabs. It would be interesting to see how these women -- and the ones who started the Facebook protests and other protests -- will continue their protest, if they continue their protest, against what led to her murder.
As for other religion angles, the very last line of the Union-Tribune piece is:
Alawadi’s father is a Shia cleric in Iraq.
Readers previously noted that this detail -- and the Sunni/Shia breakdown of the Iraqi community in El Cajon -- had not been discussed sufficiently.