The perplexing circumstances surrounding the brutal murder of a young mother, Shaima Alawadi, has had the Muslim American community abuzz recently. As her daughter purportedly found Alawadi’s body with a note stating, “go back to your country, you terrorist,” many rushed to label the incident as a ‘hate crime,’ even attempting to demonstrate a link between her death and that of Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old shot by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman.
Those attempting to link both cases claim both deaths were the result of racial or religious bigotry and point to the historical “culture of fear” surrounding African American men in this country that may have impacted Zimmerman’s attitudes and actions towards Martin. Since we also have a developing culture of fear surrounding Middle Eastern American and Muslim men it seems logical to these commentators to assume that Alawadi’s death was the result of someone else’s bigoted attitude towards Muslims.
Though the evidence for the culture of fear surrounding African American and Middle Eastern American men is well documented, attempting to exemplify this theory through linking these cases is potentially faulty on two counts – 1) it neglects to take into consideration Zimmerman’s history of violence as an indicator that he probably would have acted as he did regardless of Martin’s race, and 2) it neglects to take into consideration the questionable nature of Alawadi’s daughter’s claims and actions, as well as the increasingly likely possibility that Alawadi’s death was the result of a familial dispute.
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