On Shaima Alawadi, family violence, and hate crimes
4/11/2012 10:34 AM
by By Karla Kellam
Although I would rather the Muslim community had been a bit more cautious before rushing to judge the Alawadi case as a hate crime, the reason so many Muslims and non-Muslims hastily attributed the murder to Islamophobia is that we all recognize that anti-Islamic rhetoric in America today is vociferous enough to lead to this kind of tragedy. Alawadi’s murder followed at the heels of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, and we began to question whether racial and religious stereotyping had gone too far.
Fear, suspicion and hatred are not the American values that I, nor anybody else I know, was brought up with. These sorts of irrational and poisonous emotions have no place in a country that was pieced together by immigrants—each one adding yet another ethnicity, religion and color to the mix. In fact, our persity both sets us apart from the largely homogenous nations of world and gives us an edge—more innovative ideas, more creativity, more tolerance. Yet, we seem to have forgotten that; many even call into question the religion of our President, implying allegiance to Islam would compromise his loyalty to the United States. This slipping away of our core values is why I believe so many Americans—Muslims and non-Muslims-- rallied first around the death of Trayvon Martin and then Shaima Alawaidy.
If the facts do prove that Shaima Alawadi was the victim of family violence, then this is a problem that reaches far beyond the Muslim community. Statistically speaking, family violence is affecting an American you personally know. Guaranteed. It does not matter if you’re in the top socio-economic percentile, or the bottom. It does not matter if you identify yourself as a Muslim or a Christian. It does not matter if you’re Iraqi-American or Irish-American.
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
One in four college women have been the victim of rape or attempted rape.
More than five children die in the US every day from child abuse.
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
And between one and two million elderly Americans have been the victims of elder abuse—(and this is a conservative estimate).
We at Project Sakinah are mobilizing the Muslim American community to stop family violence in its tracks. We believe that domestic violence is not sanctioned in Islam and we ask that whether Shaima Alawaidy was bludgeoned to death by a family member or by a hateful stranger, you will contact your senators and congress people and ask them to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Donning a hijab is one means to remember Alawadi’s death and condemn her killer, but directly speaking with or writing to your state’s representatives is an even more effective one.
Karla Kellam is a competitive intelligence and marketing consultant who works for Project Sakinah in social media. She reverted to Islam 15 years ago.
Editor's Note: This article was first published on altmuslimah.com. It has been republished here with their permission.