Honor Killing in California

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Woman in Burka in American Flag FacepaintThere were signs that her traditional Muslim family may have been struggling in the U.S. even before Shaima Alawadi was murdered: Court documents say she was contemplating a divorce, and her teenage daughter was resisting an arranged marriage.

Authorities initially believed Alawadi died as part of a hate crime. Now, they say the Iraqi-American woman was killed by her husband during a domestic dispute.

The suspect, Kassim Alhimidi, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge during a brief appearance via a video monitor in Superior Court, where the couple’s teenage daughter Fatima Alhimidi cried quietly in the courtroom in El Cajon.

Kassim Alhimidi was ordered held without bail after prosecutors noted he recently traveled to Iraq and was a flight risk. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison.

Author Nina Burleigh, who has written extensively about the mix of Islam and Western society, said the case highlights the dangerous clash that can happen when female immigrants, particularly from Islamic countries, rebel against their cultural restrictions and exercise choices made available to them in their adopted homelands.

“These things are happening all over the place,” Burleigh said. “It’s much more openly discussed in Europe where there is more integration from these societies, where in the U.S. it’s not discussed so much partly because we have a bias toward discussing the way these cultures treat women.”
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Family friend Qasim Alasady went to the courthouse Tuesday to show his support for the father and his children. He said he had known the couple for 18 years and never noticed any trouble, although he recently heard from a friend that Alawadi wanted a divorce. He said divorce does happen in Iraq and in the immigrant community but is not common and is “shocking.”

Alasady said he does not know what happened in his friend’s household, but he knows from his own experience that keeping cultural traditions in the U.S. is not easy. “It is totally different, this place,” said Alasady, who has lived in San Diego for nearly two decades. “American women, they control everything. Back home it’s different. A lot of women they don’t understand. They try to own the man over here.”

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About Asma Marwan

The Story of the Poetess Asma bint [daughter of] Marwan and her Death * There was a poetess [in Medina] who wrote a poem against Mohammed and his new way of life, Islam. Mohammed said, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?” One of his followers heard him and on that very night went to the woman’s home and killed her. The assassin was able to do the work in the dark as the woman slept. Her other children lay in the room, but her babe lay on her breast. The stealthy assassin removed the child and drove the knife into her with such force that he pinned her to the bed. In the morning, he went to Mohammed and told him [what he’d done]. Mohammed said, “You have helped Allah and his Apostle.” When asked about the consequences, Mohammed said, “Two goats won’t butt their heads together over this.” Mohammed turned to the people in the mosque. He said, “If you wish to see a man who has assisted Allah and his Prophet, look ye here.” Omar cried, “What, the blind Omeir?” “No,” said Mohammed, “call him Omeir the Seeing.” * from the Sira (the life of Mohammed) Source Texts Guillaume, A. 1955. The Life of Mohammad: A Translation of Bin Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah Oxford: Oxford University Press, page 996. Muir, Sir William. 1923. The Life of Mohammad: From Original Sources Edinburgh: Reprint, John Grant, page 239.

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