AMERICAN IN ARABIA: Shaima's Tragedy is an American One

Published March 27th, 2012 - 01:25 GMT
American tragedy: Shaima Al-Awadi is an Iraqi victim of hate.
American tragedy: Shaima Al-Awadi is an Iraqi victim of hate.

Death is tragic irregardless of reason, but Shaima Al Awadi's murder sent shockwaves all over the Middle East and the U.S. with its brutality and ambiguity. Brett shares his utmost sorrow that Shaima, an American citizen and mother of five, would be so cruelly and sensessly killed.

Anytime I meet an Iraqi here in the Middle East, two things always proceed from my mouth. First, “I am sorry for the chaos in Iraq and my country’s involvement in causing that mess.” And truly I am still shocked our troops were bogged down in Baghdad for so long.

The very next sincerity I always offer is that you Iraqis are welcome to the United States. As a small gesture to help the tragedies our tax dollars created through bombing your stability to shreds, please come to our country.

In America, you are free to pursue your dreams and live as you like. You want to be a doctor? Godspeed! Start a business? I’ll be your first customer.

You can worship as a Shia and not feel any fear. Pray as a Sunni with ease and among many others. Take communion as a Christian any time you want. Or you are entitled to not believe in anything at all without harassment.

Unlike Iraq, no one is going to kill you because you are not the same religion or tribe as him or her!

This tragic beating of Shaima Al Awadi, an Iraqi mother of five in California, threatens the validity of that statement. My stomach dropped when I heard about some beast who brutally beat this woman and then left a note saying, “Go back to your country, you terrorist!”

If this killer truly thought this lady was a terrorist because of a piece of cloth on her head, than they are living in a horrible delusion. A covered woman means the same thing as an Amish gal with a bonnet or a Jewish grandmother in a shawl – it’s a religious expression of modesty. No more, no less.

Whoever ended poor Shaima’s life has no pulse. They are lower than any animal and will be found because of their stench. The US Security system will catch this coward and there will be justice.

Until then, and quite possiblly after, peacemakers like myself (who actually love the idea of Iraqis in America and Americans in Arabia) have to deal with the backlash that’s coming. Already many Arab news outlets are printing this story as a definite hate crime. This only fuels any fires of hatred people of this region might harbor towards the West.

When the Afghanis got so riled about the Qur’an burning pastor in Florida, who was affected more, the redneck Rev. Terry Jones or the hundreds of humanitarian workers caught in riots and threatened in Kabul?

My fear is that this woman’s murder will be turned into a similar struggle. Whether or not this was a hate crime (I’ll wait for the police to finish the investigation), it does not represent Americans as a people. In general, we really embrace any race and I’m sure most of my stateside readers agree?

If you nodded your head yes, you can now also empathize with the millions of Muslims who say the same whenever an ‘Islamic’ terrorist leaves a note---those killers are not us! ‘We love all people, and Islam does not condone killing!’

Let’s stand together against the media frenzying the thousands by plastering isolated incidents like Shaima’s slaughter all over the front pages just for the sake of creating hysteria. 

And I would still stand by my claim that the U.S. is still a great place for Iraqis to live. Mrs. Al Awadi was one of our own for 15 years. She served our country and dreamed of peace between Muslims and Christians. And we will defend her honor.

The killer is as good as captured and we will carry your vision Shaima as we grieve deeply for your family. When we hear about your legacy as a woman and a mother, perhaps we can imagine your vision statement would look like this:

Let us live with and learn from one another while protecting every life from anyone or anything that promotes death. Amen and Amen.

By Brett Weer

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