Funeral held for 6-year-old Palestinian-American child killed in hate crime
On Monday, 16 October, mourners in Chicago and across the US grieved the untimely loss of a 6-year-old boy who was stabbed to death the previous day by his family's landlord in what investigators have said was a hate crime due to his Muslim background and related to Israel's new war on Gaza.
The incident occurred on Sunday when Joseph Czuba, 71, attacked Wadea Al-Fayoume and his 32-year-old mother, Hanaan Shahin, with a knife, leaving the child critically wounded and the mother in serious condition. The child succumbed to his wounds later that day, and Shahin recovered from the attack.
A service was held at a mosque in Bridgeview, Illinois, near Chicago on Monday afternoon, drawing a large crowd, many of whom did not know the boy, to pay their respects and support the boy's family following the shocking crime. The landlord reportedly attacked his tenants after watching news coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The gruesome killing has drawn widespread condemnation, including from US President Joe Biden, who on Monday wrote on X, formerly Twitter, "An attack on one group of us is an attack on all of us. In America, hate will not prevail. Venom and violence against any one community cannot – and will not – be the story of our time."
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, who attended the funeral, said, "As governor of Illinois, I condemn bigotry and violence. I won't be silent in the face of this evil in any form."
Though politicians and other public figures widely condemned the crime, some civil rights advocates point their fingers at what they see as biased news coverage of the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas, following the group's surprise attack on Israel on 7 October and Israel's severe retaliation.
The United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) released a statement on Monday, saying, "USPCN demands an end to vicious and racist statements about the Palestinian people from legislators and the media, and calls for the community and allies to be vigilant and organised in defending and protecting our people in the US."
The FBI has reported increased threats to Jews and Muslims in the US since 7 October.