Alia Ansari Murder Leads to "Wear a Hijab/Turban Day"
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the city of Fremont (dubbed by some "Little Kabul") is known for its thriving Afghan-American community. Unfortunately, the community has been marred by violence in recent months.
In August, Fremont resident Omeed Aziz Popal went on a murderous rampage, using his SUV to kill one local man and injure 14 people in San Francisco. While some suspected it might have been a case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome, it was never proven conclusively.
More recently, the community itself seems to have been the target.
In October, wife and mother of six Alia Ansari was walking with her three-year-old daughter when she was shot in the head and killed. The fact that the crime occurred during broad daylight and on residential street shocked the community.
Ansari was not carrying a purse, thereby ruling out robbery, and family members insisted that there was no known motive for the killing. But Ansari was wearing a hijab or headscarf and Muslim leaders quickly labeled it a hate crime. This despite the fact that the crime remains unsolved.
Lo and behold, Ansari's death has now become an opportunity for Muslim outreach. November 13 has been named "Wear a Hijab/Turban Day" in Fremont and along with an "international moment of silence," a rally featuring various local politicians and community speakers is being held. Sponsored by the Foundation for Self-Reliance, the American Muslim Voice and other Muslim and community groups, the event will examine such topics as "post-9/11 civil liberties," "reactive racism" and "white privilege."
In addition, attendees are encouraged to "wear a headscarf, turban, hat, yarmulke" and if unprepared, members of the American Muslim Voice will conveniently be on hand "distributing head scarves." According to Melanie Gadener, founder of the Foundation for Self-Reliance, a non-profit organization that promotes "economic independence in the Afghan community," the event is an opportunity for "an intriguing social experiment." As she puts it,
"What if women of all religions pledged to wear a Muslim head covering, a hijab,for one day? How might people treat you differently if, for one day, the only thing different about you was what you were wearing on your head?"So in honor of Ansari, non-Muslim women are happily donning the hijab? Talk about an Islamist's fantasy.
But what if Ansari's murder had nothing to do with anti-Muslim bigotry? What if the murderer actually came from within her own family or community? Such internal violence is certainly not unheard of in Muslim communities where all too often women are targeted by their own male family members.
But in this case, the more likely culprit is rival tribal or gang affiliations. According to investigators, graffiti found near the crime scene includes "acronyms for Afghan gangs." And this was not the first time that the Ansari family had been targeted. In 2002, one member of Ansari's family was shot and killed and another wounded by a fellow member of the community. SFGate.com has the details:
The slaying marks the second time someone in the victim's family has been shot and killed in Fremont. In January 2002, Afghan community leader Rahim Ansari, 34, of Union City was shot and killed inside his business, Pamir Travel,in Little Kabul.This seems awfully coincidental and at the very least, worth investigating.
The suspected gunman in that incident, upset over a spurned romance, also wounded Rahim Ansari's brother-in-law, Zabiullah Ansari, a second-cousin of Alia Ansari. In an interview Friday, Zabiullah Ansari, 48, expressed hope that the right person had been arrested. But he said, "They don't know what happened."
If it's found that Alia Ansari's killer was not a white racist after all, but rather a fellow Muslim, I wonder if we'll hear as much outcry from Fremont's Afghan-American community? Will there be a "Stop Muslim on Muslim Violence Day"?
Somehow I doubt it.
Cross-posted at Kesher Talk.