Black leaders express outrage over murder of 6-year-old boy in a Chicago suburb

Black leaders from Chicago and beyond had issued statements over the brutal, hate-fueled stabbing death of a six-year-old boy in a Southwestern Chicago suburb.

Wadea Al-Fayoume, who had recently had a birthday, died Saturday after being stabbed dozens of times. Authorities eventually arrested the family’s landlord, Joseph Czuba, who is accused of stabbing and killing the child and critically injuring his mother, 32-year-old Hanaan Shahin, Saturday morning. 

Czuba reportedly singled out and attacked the Palestinian American boy and his mother because he was upset over the war between Israel and Hamas.

A relative who spoke on behalf of the family said that the 71-year-old Czuba sat on top of the child and stabbed him more than 26 times while looking into his eyes. 

According to the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Czuba has been charged with First Degree Murder, Attempted First Degree Murder, Hate Crime (2 counts) and Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. 

 Al-Fayoume was laid to rest on Monday. 

“This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are,” said President Joe Biden in a statement. 

Vice President Kamala Harris also added, “Doug and I grieve with the family of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian-American Muslim child who was stabbed to death on Saturday. We also pray for the recovery of Wadea’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, who was stabbed 12 times in the same attack.”

The incident drew the ire of many, including Black leaders at home in Chicago and “abroad” like NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson: 

“Once again, the proliferation of misinformation and hateful conspiracy theories has resulted in a life lost far too soon. Today, the NAACP grieves the loss of six-year old Wadea Al-Fayoume. No one should face the threat of violence in their own home, and we must do everything in our power to stop hate wherever it rears its ugly head. The NAACP is committed to combating hate and speaking out against any act that threatens the safety of our most vulnerable communities. There is no place for hate in a democracy.”

U.S. Rep. Jonathan L. Jackson issued the following statement, “My heart aches for the family and community of Wadea Al-Fayoume, and I pray with all my soul that his mother recovers. These were good people who were attacked for no other reason than they were Muslim, Palestinian Americans. We must condemn this horrific attack in the strongest possible terms and ensure that this virus of hate does not spread. We must redouble our efforts to preach the truth that Islam is a faith of peace, Palestinian Americans are our neighbors, and everyone deserves to live without fear of prejudice or hate.” 

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also added, “…I unequivocally condemn the horrific hate-fueled murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoumi yesterday and the attempted murder of his mother — acts of violence motivated by the war, right here in Illinois. We as a county strongly condemn any hate including toward our Muslim and Jewish residents.

Hate will never have a place in our county, state or nation. I join so many across the county and world in hoping for peace and yearning for a time when all people can live peacefully and safely.”

On Monday, Mayor Brandon Johnson also expressed grief over the loss of Al-Fayoume and offered prayers for his mother’s ongoing recovery:

“I am devastated by the murder of a six-year-old Palestinian American, Wadea Al-Fayoume, and the attempted murder of his mother in Plainfield, Illinois. This 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. We also pray for his mother’s recovery. We will never forget Wadea who was taken from us much too soon. May God rest his soul in eternal peace and may peace reign here on Earth.”

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