Posts Tagged ‘religion’

After we discussed the horrific and tragic murder of Trayvon Martin in class today, this article in particular caught my attention:

Shaima Alawadi, a resident of San Diego, California, was found beaten unconscious in her home last Wednesday and died of her wounds this past Saturday.  A note was found saying, “Go back to your own country. You’re a terrorist”.

Shaima was a stay at home mother with five children.


This happened less than a week ago.

There was mention in class of how certain ideas in society become normalized, for better or for worse. In Trayvon and Shaima’s case there is no question these ideas create a poisonous environment.

But in both cases there was a similarity: clothing.

Trayvon was wearing a hoodie; which according to sources across the spectrum, most notably Geraldo Rivera, made him a target for suspicion. Last I checked wearing a hooded sweatshirt left no one with the ability to label someone as “suspicious” and cause cruel loss of life to another.

Shaima also had an article of clothing that marked her; a hijab. For those who are unfamiliar with a hijab, it is a head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women for reasons of modesty. Yet by wearing a hijab Shaima marked herself as “other”.

I find myself wondering if we can draw parallels between Shaima’s and Trayvon’s murders. They were both marginalized members of society, Trayvon was black and Shaima was an Iraqi-American immigrant. Both were wearing articles of clothing that are innocuous (although a hijab may stand out for those unfamiliar with the garb) but these clothes became threatening to those with prejudices and stereotypes.

I think we, as a Western society, are not past our cultural and racial biases when two murders are committed within a month of each other on the basis of race and ethnicity, with the flimsy excuses of clothing as reasoning. (By the way, I’m not ignoring that there are far, far too many of these crimes that go purposely unnoticed or are unreported).

In response to this hate crime there has been an out pour on social media and I found a group on facebook that seemed particularly fitting: http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Million-Hijabs-for-Shaima-Alawadi/137306256397032.

When women are told, “you were asking for it”, if they are raped and happened to be wearing a miniskirt, when young black men are shot for wearing hoodies, and a woman is beaten to death in California for wearing a hijab because it “makes her a terrorist”, I have to wonder about the emphasis placed on clothing and the body-the cycle of violence around the clothing people wear for religious or personal reasons and why people use these articles of clothing as excuses for committing atrocities.

I find myself sick at heart with the violence, the hate, the prejudice, and the inbred bias. I send loving and peaceful wishes to the members of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi’s families.

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