Six year old Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American, was brutally murdered in an apparent hate crime at his Chicago home over the weekend.
Al-Fayoume and his mother were in their ground floor apartment Saturday when they were attacked by their landlord, reports indicate.
Ahmed Rehab, the president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, spoke on behalf of the family at a press conference Sunday. Al-Fayoume’s father was “too shaken to speak”.
Al-Fayoume’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, sent text messages to his father from her hospital bed, detailing the attack. Rehab relayed those text messages to the public. They indicated that Joseph Czuba, 71, entered the Al-Fayoume residence and began to attack the mother.
Rehab stated that Czuba “knocked on the door” and immediately “attempted to choke her”.
According to Shahin, Czuba yelled “you Muslims must die!” as he began to stab her with a military-style knife.
Hanaan Shahin, 32, was stabbed a dozen times. Czuba then stabbed six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume a total of 26 times.
Shahin was able to crawl to the bathroom floor and call 911 for help. She remains in serious condition at a local hospital.
Wadea Al-Fayoume’s mother and father came to the United States twelve years ago from the West Bank in Palestine. Reports indicate they were “seeking refuge” from ongoing violence in the region.
While Czuba has yet to provide a statement to police, authorities believe the attack is a hate crime.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office says the family was “targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”
Hate crime fueled by growing Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian sentiment in the wake of Hamas terror attack on Israel
The attack comes amid an surge in rhetoric across the political spectrum seeking to tie the Palestinian people to the terror group Hamas after the October 7th attacks in Israel. Those attacks, which targeted innocent Israeli civilians and children, left 1400 dead, with 100 other held captive by Hamas.
Since the attacks, Israel has launched a series of counter-offensive strikes targeted at the Gaza strip to “destroy Hamas”. Despite the majority of Palestinians living in Gaza being children or elderly individuals, some Israeli officials blame all Gazans for the attack.
The Israeli defense minister also said the country’s military was “fighting human animals” in Gaza.
In the United States, some journalists and leaders have claimed those who support the nation of Palestine also support Hamas. One report from The Washington Examiner attempted to link the only Palestinian member of Congress to Hamas because they have a Palestinian flag outside of their office.
Biden, others express “shock” and “horror” over the hate-fueled attack on American family.
City and national leaders addressed the attack on the Al-Fayoume family, calling it “horrific” and “devastating”.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson called the murder of Wadea a “despicable hate crime is a shameful reminder of the destructive role Islamophobia plays in our society.”
“We grieve alongside his family and the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian communities in our state as we reckon with this unthinkable loss,” Johnson said.
President Biden also expressed shock and outrage at the killing. In a statement released Sunday, Biden said the news “shocked and sickened” the first family.
“This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values,” Biden said. “As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred.”
Wadea Al-Fayoume’s family plans to lay the child to rest in a ceremony on Monday. Wadea just celebrated his sixth birthday in September.