With national attention on the Trayvon Martin case, another racially-charged case is moving into the spotlight. Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi immigrant and mother of five, died on Saturday near San Diego. Her death comes three days after her daughter found her severely beaten on Wednesday in her home of El Cajon, Calif., next to a note saying “go back to your country.”
Immediately after the AP reported her death, the story became the #1 worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Users quickly compared #RIPShaima and the hijab she was wearing — a mark of her Muslim faith — to the #RIPTrayvon hashtag and the hoodie he was wearing when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman. Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera had claimed that Martin’s hoodie was the cause of his death, a comment which sparked an online wave of hoodie-wearing in protest.
In the same way that the hoodie has become emblematic of support for Trayvon Martin, the Facebook page “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi” has become an online destination for advocates of Alawadi. On the Facebook page, users are sharing photos of themselves wearing a headscarf, posting articles and videos relevant to the case and planning community events to raise awareness. A status update posted on Sunday, along with a photo of Alawadi, states the reason for the cause and urges citizens to take a stand:
This is #ShaimaAlwadi. Now look at her smile. She could be your daughter, your sister, your friend. We cannot let the children in this country grow up in a world so full of hatred that a woman wearing a head scarf is afraid for her life, that a black kid wearing a hoodie is afraid for his life, a world where the victim of sexual violence gets the blame for the actions of the perpetrator because of what she was wearing. Enough. The color of your skin, your gender or your outfit cannot be used an excuse or an invitation for violence. We are all Shaima. We need a Million Hijab March.
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