The death of Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi woman, has raised concerns on the motivation of the crime.
Police officials at El Cajon are still investigating the cause, but they are not ruling out the possibility that this may have been a hate crime.
A panel of community leaders and scholars met at Thomas Jefferson School of Law to discuss the nature of hate crimes and the effect they have on victims.
A hate crime is defined as a crime that is “substantially motivated by a bias”, according to San Diego’s Hate Crimes Unit District Attorney Oscar Garcia. The bias or prejudice could be race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability.
Garcia says that in the San Diego County there has been a 30 percent increase in hate crimes from 2009 to 2010.
“Most hate crimes are committed by a group,” he adds, “They are usually more violent and don’t see victims as humans.”
Another panel member who contributed to the discussion was Edgar Hopida from the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Being a victim of crime hate for practicing Islam, Hopida wants to bring awareness about this issue to the community and more specifically, about the hate crime against Muslims.
“The Muslim community has not been a stranger to being a victim of hate crimes,” he says, “Ever since 9/11 we have been unfortunately victims of these crimes.”
Garcia, Hopida and the rest of the panelists seek to educate the community about the importance of prosecuting hate crimes.
The Muslim Student Association at TJSL sponsored this panel discussion.