6-year-old killed in hate crime connected to Israel-Palestine War, police say

A 6-year-old boy in the US was stabbed to death by his landlord in a horrific Islamophobic attack motivated by Israel-Palestine War, officials say.

Wadea Al Fayoume as stabbed 26 times on Saturday by his family’s landlord in Illinois, according to local police.

The landlord, Joseph M. Czuba, 71, allegedly yelled, “you Muslims must die”, as he attacked the boy and his mother, Hanaan Shahin, who was seriously injured.

The attack is being investigated by the Department of Justice as a hate crime.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, called for an end to “dehumanising anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian bigotry” in politics and media following the killing.

Czuba was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.  

Officials say the victims were “targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”  

The mother and son had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years without any prior notable issues.

According to written text messages reportedly sent to the father of the boy by the mother from the hospital and shared with CAIR, the landlord knocked on their door, and when she opened it, he tried to choke her and proceeded to attack her with a knife, yelling “you Muslims must die!”

When she ran into the bathroom to call 911, she discovered he had stabbed her six-year-old son.

Wadea’s funeral was held on Monday, while his mother’s injuries prevented her from attending.

The boy’s parents are from a village in the West Bank. His mother immigrated to the US 12 years ago and his father 9 years ago.  Wadea was born in the US.

Attack sends shockwaves  

The incident has sent shockwaves through the nation, prompting wide media coverage and condemnation.  

“Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with the darling boy and his mother,” said Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director.  

“As we await the official investigation of the local authorities, what we can confirm at the moment is that we have a murdered child in his own home, a six-year who had just celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a mother lying in the hospital in serious condition, both stabbed over a dozen times.  

“And we have testimony from the mother as to the harrowing moments that unfolded in terms of what was done and said – and it is our worst nightmare.

CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell hoped the tragic case would remind public officials and commentators to stop anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry when speaking about the violence in the Middle East.

“Media outlets, political leaders and major corporations have spent more than a week ignoring the suffering of the Palestinian people, justifying war crimes against Palestinians, and spreading inflammatory propaganda and misinformation aimed at Muslims and Palestinians here in America. This must end. Now,” he said.

President Joe Biden said he was “sickened” by Saturday’s attack.

“As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred,” the Bidens said in a statement.

“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.”

As the crisis escalates in the Middle East, so do reports of possible hate crimes in the US. CAIR has already documented nearly a dozen incidents of anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic incidents since the conflict started.

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