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Slain Iraqi Refugee's Body Returning From California To Baghdad


A screen grab from U.S. television coverage of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, whose body was found in the living room of her suburban San Diego home by her daughter on March 21.

A screen grab from U.S. television coverage of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, whose body was found in the living room of her suburban San Diego home by her daughter on March 21.

The body of an Iraqi refugee who was beaten to death with a tire iron in her California home last week by an unknown assailant following a written threat calling her a "terrorist" is being flown back to Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters at a news conference for the Arab League summit in Baghdad on March 26 that "the government has ordered to transport her body from California to Baghdad."

Thirty-two-year-old Shaima Alawadi was found in the living room of her suburban San Diego home by her 17-year-old daughter on March 21, lying next to a note that said, "Go back to your country, you terrorist."

Alawadi survived three days on life support after the brutal attack, but the machines were turned off on March 24.

U.S. law-enforcement officials say they are investigating all aspects of the killing, including the possibility that it was a hate crime.

Alawadi's daughter, Fatima Al Himidi -- who was upstairs sleeping during the attack -- told a local television news station (KGTV) that a week before, someone had "left a letter saying, 'This is our country, not yours, you terrorists.'" She said her mother had ignored the note because she believed it was the work of children playing a prank.

The killing has brought calls from Iraqi politicians for a full investigation.

"We deplore this hideous crime that took place in a country calls itself the land of democracy, freedoms, and freedom of religious," Iraqi lawmaker Aliyah Nisayef said. She said the Iraqi Foreign Affairs Ministry would demand answers from the U.S. State Department.

Haider al-Mulla, a Shi'ite from the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political party, said, "If the investigation reveals that the attack was a hatred crime, then U.S. authorities should take measures to protect all Iraqi refugees on American soil."

Alawadi, who leaves behind five children and a husband, sought refuge in the United States in 1993 along with a wave of Iraqi Shi'ites who were fleeing Saddam Hussein's regime. Hussein launched a brutal crackdown on Shi'ites following a 1991 uprising.

Alawadi lived in Dearborn, Michigan -- home to America's largest Arab American community -- for several years before moving to El Cajon, California, a suburb of San Diego. Like Dearborn, El Cajon also has a large Iraqi population.

A family friend, Hayder Al-Zayadi, told the "Detroit Free Press" that Alawadi's brothers worked for the U.S. Army as cultural advisers to U.S. soldiers about to be deployed to Iraq. Another friend said Alawadi's husband reportedly worked in a similar capacity.

Imam Husham Al-Husainy, of the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, also told the newspaper that Alawadi's father is Sayed Nabeel Alawadi, a Shi'ite cleric in Iraq.

He said people in Dearborn are "outraged" by the attack.

Because Alawadi wore the traditional Muslim head scarf known as a hijab, her killing is being compared by some to another recent controversial U.S. murder.

Seventeen-year-old Treyvon Martin was killed in Florida on February 26 by a neighborhood-watch volunteer who told police that Martin's hooded sweatshirt made him look suspicious.

The teenager, who was black, was walking back to his house in a gated community carrying a bag of candy and a can of iced tea. His killer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, is white and had a permit to carry the gun that he used to shoot Williams.

Public anger over the police decision not to arrest Zimmerman has been steadily growing, and a grand jury is now considering whether he should be charged.

The website of the "The Atlantic" magazine reported that on Twitter, "the number of angry tweets featuring both the words 'hoodie' and 'hijab' have been rapidly multiplying in the past 24 hours."

With reporting by AP
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