By AMANDA LEE MYERS (AP)
PEORIA, Ariz. — Noor Faleh Almaleki just wanted to be a normal American woman.
The striking 20-year-old from Iraq, who’d lived in Phoenix since she was a young girl, wanted her hair and makeup to be perfect, her clothes to be fashionable. She wanted a job, a degree and a husband of her choosing.
On her Facebook page, Noor posted photos of herself and wrote: “I am spectacular,” punctuated with a smiley face emoticon.
But Noor’s father had a much different ideal for his daughter: a life in strict line with traditional Iraqi culture.
He made her quit her fast-food restaurant job and arranged for her to marry a man in Iraq she didn’t know, according to friends and family.
Finally, police say, 48-year-old Faleh Hassan Almaleki put an end to what he perceived to be his daughter’s rebellious life. Using his Jeep as a weapon, he allegedly ran her down in a parking lot Oct. 20 in what prosecutors are calling an “honor killing” to cleanse what he considered were indiscretions to the family’s honor.
Noor underwent spinal surgery and was in a coma until her death on Monday. Another woman struck by the Jeep, the mother of Noor’s boyfriend, was expected to survive.
Andregg, a friend for seven years, described Noor as independent, but far from rebellious and always respectful of her parents. She said Noor just wanted to live her own life, but that her father wouldn’t let her.
“His whole persona was very controlling, very strong-minded in the ways he wanted it for her,” Andregg said. “He talked down to her very much, made sure she knew she wasn’t good enough and brought a lot of dishonor to the family.”
Meanwhile, she said, Noor “just wanted to be a normal teenager,” and later, wanted to finish college, marry the man she loved, and have children.
Almaleki, who fled after the attack, was stopped at London’s airport and sent back to the U.S. on Oct. 29. He was on suicide watch in a Phoenix jail and has declined requests for comment. It’s unclear whether he yet has a lawyer.
Noor and her family moved to the U.S. in the mid-1990s and lived in the west Phoenix suburb of Glendale.
In 2008, friends say Almaleki took Noor to Iraq under the guise of visiting family. Actually, he had picked out a husband for her and told her she couldn’t return to Arizona unless she married him. Noor married the man and returned, and friends say he was in the process of trying to move here, too.
But Noor fell in love with another man, friends say, and was living in his home with his mother when she was killed.
About 50 friends and family attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night for Noor in the parking lot where she was run down. Her mother and several others wept as they stood in a circle holding candles, hugging each other and remembering the young woman.
“This was the last place that Noor was herself,” said Andregg, who helped organize the vigil. “It’s a hard place to be, especially for her mom, I know. I just think it was appropriate to be here instead of at a park or a cemetery.”
Despite all her family troubles, Andregg and several other friends say Noor rarely if ever spoke about them.
“She always had a smile on her face,” said Niki Nia, 18, of Scottsdale. “When people weren’t getting along, she would always try to bring peace between them, and I think a lot of that had to do with what was happening at home. She wanted her social life to be peaceful.”
Nia said Noor might be in a better place now. “She never would have been able to escape,” she said.
Jim Heinrich, who was Noor’s yearbook teacher at Dysart High School, said Noor affected many students’ lives.
“One of them told me, ‘We had everything we wanted and she had a lot of difficulties and she never complained.’ She always knew her life would be OK,” Heinrich said. “She was one of those people — it’s like her spirit was bigger than her body. You were just very aware that she was there in a good way.”
Phillip Pimentel, another friend of Noor’s living in Japan, wrote in an e-mail that Noor never spoke to him about her troubles at home.
“What I’ll remember and miss most about her is that she seemed happy,” wrote Pimentel, 21. “Worry-free, full of hopes and dreams of the future. Such a shame that such a good person with so much going for herself was taken at such an early age.”
Noor now has a second Facebook page, started by the people who are mourning her death. More than 1,600 had joined as of Friday.
On the page, underneath a photo of Noor shown with a soft smile and her hair blowing, is a message that reads:
“May Noor Almaleki and all other victims of senseless honor killings rest in peace. And may God be the guardian of others who are in danger of sharing that fate. And may we all do something to end honor killings once and for all.”