6-year-old Illinois Muslim boy’s killing “directly connected to dehumanizing of Palestinians”: Dem

A 6-year-old Illinois boy on Saturday was killed and his mother was wounded by a landlord because they were Muslim in an attack linked to the violence in Gaza and Israel, police say.

Joseph Czumba, 71, was arrested on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after police say he attacked his tenants with a serrated knife at the suburban Chicago home, according to The New York Times.

Police say the man stabbed 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume 26 times, killing him, and stabbed the boy’s mother more than a dozen times. The mother, 32, is in serious condition at a hospital.

The Will County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Sunday that “detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”

Relatives said the family is Palestinian American, according to the Times.

“Let’s be clear. This was directly connected to the dehumanizing of Palestinians that has been allowed over the last week by our media, by our elected officials who have lacked the moral compass and lacked the courage to call for something as simple as de-escalation and peace,” Abdelnaser Rashid, a Palestinian American Democratic Illinois state representative, said Sunday.

Officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Times that they reviewed text messages that the boy’s mother sent his father, indicating that the landlord was angry with what he was seeing on the news. He knocked on the family’s door and tried to choke her and attack her with a knife, yelling, “you Muslims must die,” according to CAIR’s account of the messages.

When she ran to the bathroom to call 911, she came out to find that he had stabbed her son. “It all happened in seconds,” she wrote, according to CAIR.

The boy’s father, Oday El-Fayoume, told The Daily Beast he could not believe what happened because his ex-wife and son “had a good relationship” with the landlord.

“It is hard to picture this man holding a knife about to stab my son. I keep thinking that my son was probably running towards him before getting stabbed, trying to give him a hug,” he told the outlet.

The Department of Justice said in a statement on Sunday that it has “opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the events leading to the tragic death of Wadea Al-Fayoume and the serious injuries suffered by his mother, Hanaan Shahin.”

“This incident cannot help but further raise the fears of Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities in our country with regard to hate-fueled violence,” the DOJ added, according to Axios.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Sunday condemned the “brutal” attack late Sunday.

“The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek—a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace,” they 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. “

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“As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred.  I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate.  We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone,” the statement added.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement that taking a six-year-old child’s life “in the name of bigotry is nothing short of evil.”

“Wadea should be heading to school in the morning. Instead, his parents will wake up without their son. This wasn’t just a murder — it was a hate crime,” he said.

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