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6-year-old Palestinian-American Boy Stubbed to Death for Being Muslim

Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old boy, was stabbed to death on Saturday by their 71-year-old landlord in what is being called a hate crime. Wadea and his mother Hanaan Shahin were attacked and stabbed multiple times in their home near Chicago. According to reports, the two were attacked for being Muslim.

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The young boy, who had just celebrated his birthday barely a week before the attack was described as extremely loving, peaceful, and playful. Wadea’s family moved to the US from a village in the West Bank. His mother, Shahin, moved 12 years ago, followed by his father, Oday Al-Fayoume, nine years ago. Wadea was born in the United States three years later.

Wadea Al-Fayoume, 6-year-old Palestinian-American Boy Stubbed to Death for Being Muslim.
Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American Boy Stubbed to Death for Being Muslim. Photo| CNN

Wadea met his extremely sad and untimely death moments after their landlord confronted his mother about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. According to court filings, Shahin responded to her attacker saying that “they should pray for peace.” Shortly after her response, she was suddenly stubbed more than a dozen times. Efforts to save herself landed her in the bathroom. Unfortunately, she was not quick enough to save her son, who was stabbed 26 times.

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Sadly, Wadea was announced dead 31 minutes after Deputies responded to their home. The suspect, Joseph Czuba was found sitting on the ground near the home’s driveway. According to Joseph’s wife, the husband had mentioned on October 11 that he wanted Wadea and his mother to vacate the premises. The wife told investigators that Joseph “believed that they were in danger and that (Shahin) was going to call over her Palestinian friends or family to harm them.”

“The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek—a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace. This horrific act of hate has no place in America.”

US President Joe Biden’s statement in response to the killing
Hundreds of people gathered to mourn Wadea at vigil held in Illinois on Tuesday. Photo| CNN

Joseph M Czuba has since been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He is being held in police custody without bail awaiting his next court hearing on October 30. However, a close friend of Wadea’s family said that Joseph was once very friendly with the family,

“This gentleman actually was one of the best friends of the family. He used to love the boy. He used to bring him toys. He used to play and spend a lot of the time with that boy. He treated him as a grandkid but unfortunately the wrong message when it comes to certain people, it becomes a killing machine.”

Close friend of Wadea’s family

Nonetheless, it was also noted that the kid and his family had lived there for 2 years without previous notable issues. Consequently, hundreds of people turned up for Wadea’s vigil. The vigil was held in a basketball court in Plainfield Illinois in memory of Wadea and his love for the sport. Oday Al-Fayoume, his father, addressed the gathering in Arabic. He recalled learning a lot of the English language from his son. “With Wadea gone, I don’t think there’s room for me to speak English anymore,” the grieving father said a day after his child was buried.

Oday Al-Fayoume, Wadea’s father, speaking during his child’s vigil. Photo| CNN

However, Wadea’s mother could not attend her boy’s funeral as she was still recovering from wounds. It was noted that she is “dealing with her injuries, dealing with her emotional trauma, and dealing with the biggest hole that can never be filled, the biggest gap of all, the loss of her child.” Aside from that, a number of religious, political, and community leaders have condemned the act and called for humanity above everything else.

“Every single Palestinian child is just as beautiful, has just as much of a right to be mourned and when we mourn Wadea, we are mourning all of those children and when we condemn the hate that killed Wadea, we are condemning the hate that has killed all of those children. What type of hate has to be manufactured in the head of a man for him to stand over a 6-year-old boy and stab him 26 times? I want each and every single one of us to take a step back and to actually assess our own humanity in the moment.”

Imam Omar Suleiman

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Several children attended Wadea’s vigil on Tuesday and one of them held up a sign that read, “I am not a threat,” with a colored-in drawing of a Palestinian flag. Prayer at the vigil was led by Imam Hassan Aly who honored Wadea in words that are true and cut deep.

“Wadea is a name that means peaceful, yet he didn’t get to experience peace in this world. But we strongly believe that he now rests in eternal peace alongside the innocent children of Gaza and other innocent children and civilians who have recently lost their lives to violence.”

Imam Hassan Aly
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