LAKESIDE (CNS) - A memorial at the Islamic Center of Lakeside will be held Tuesday for an Iraqi woman found fatally beaten in her El Cajon home near a note that called her a terrorist and told her and her family to go home.
The service for 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five, is set for 4 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Lakeside.
In addition to her family, local Muslims with the Islamic Center, a representative of the Iraqi government and the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will attend the service, according to CAIR, a nationwide Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group.
Alawadi was found fatally beaten in the living room of her home in the 500 block of Skyview Street about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday by her eldest daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, who said the note was similar to one found earlier outside the house and that her mother dismissed as a prank.
El Cajon police stopped short of calling it a hate crime, pending more investigation. No suspects have been publicly identified, and police have said little about evidence collected at the scene.
Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter said her mother was beaten with a tire iron. She was taken off life support about 3 p.m. Saturday.
El Cajon police Chief Jim Redman called the slaying an "isolated incident." He said a window on the home had been broken out, but declined to say what the note said.
"I want to stress there is other evidence in this case that we are looking at, and the possibility of a hate crime is just one of the aspects of this investigation," Redman said. "We are still in the very early stages of this investigation and have not drawn any conclusions at this point."
El Cajon is home to one of the most populous Iraqi immigrant communities in the United States, but Redman said his department had no record of hate crimes against Iraqis. Responding to a reporter's question, he said was unaware of any increased "hostility" toward Iraqis in El Cajon.
"We've reached out to members of the (Middle Eastern) community, and we received their full support in this investigation," he said.
Redman said his department tracks skinheads and other groups known to immigrants.
FBI agents offered "any assistance we may need, and we will be utilizing their resources as appropriate," Redman said, calling the case a "number one priority for us."
The county Medical Examiner's Office declined to release any information about the autopsy at request of police.
Alawadi will be buried in Baghdad, Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Monday. It was unclear when authorities would release the body.
Alawadi wore a traditional Muslim hijab, or headscarf, and had lived in the El Cajon home only a few weeks, having just recently moved back to San Diego County from Michigan, according to a family friend.
Her spouse had worked in San Diego as a contractor for the U.S. Army, serving as a cultural adviser to train soldiers who were being deployed to the Middle East.
Redman said the husband was on disability, and Alawadi did not work. She also is survived by her three daughters and two sons.
A Facebook campaign started on behalf of Alawadi urges women all over the world to wear a hijab at least one day in April.