Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions that may be upsetting and disturbing.
The funeral and wake for a 6-year-old Muslim boy from Illinois who was the victim of a brutal stabbing and hate crime that also left his 32-year-old mother seriously injured will be held Monday.
A funeral prayer service for Wadea Al-Fayoume, 6, is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. at the Mosque Foundation at 7360 W. 93rd St. in Bridgeview, the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said. . Wadea’s family, as well as members and leaders of the Muslim community, interfaith leaders and government officials are expected to attend.
Burial at Parkholm Cemetery in LaGrange will follow the service, CAIR said.
Hanaan Shahin, 32, and his 6-year-old son, Wadea Al-Fayoume, were brutally attacked and stabbed Saturday inside their Plainfield home by their landlord, Joseph Czuba, who allegedly targeted them for their Islamic faith. and the Israel-Hamas war, according to authorities.
Czuba, 71, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of a hate crime, according to the Will County Sheriff’s Office. Czuba is expected to appear in court Monday at 1:30 p.m.
“This is a difficult day that we hoped would never come,” Ahmed Rahab, executive director of CAIR, said in the statement. “As they say, the smallest coffins are the heaviest. My heart and thoughts today are especially with the mother, Hanaan Shahin, who is battling serious bodily injuries in the hospital, not to mention the mental trauma of blood that she experienced and witnessed. She will feel Wadea’s loss more than anyone, but she is forced to grieve alone rather than in the warm arms of her family and community at this time.”
What we know
Saturday around 11:38 a.m., Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a home in the 16200 block of South Lincoln Highway, near Lily Cache Road, about a stabbing involving Czuba and a tenant , according to authorities.
The tenant, Shahin, 32, who is Muslim, suffered more than a dozen stab wounds to her body and is expected to survive the attack.
Czuba also allegedly stabbed the woman’s son, Wadea, who was initially taken to the hospital in critical condition but later died from his injuries, according to the sheriff’s office. An autopsy performed Sunday by a medical examiner found the boy was stabbed 26 times all over his body with a 12-inch military knife, authorities said.
The homeowner, who was found by officers on the ground near the driveway of the home, was treated for a laceration and released from the hospital. He was then taken to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex and questioned by detectives, according to police.
Although Czuba made no statements regarding his involvement in the attack, law enforcement was able to gather evidence, leading prosecutors to file numerous criminal charges. Detectives determined that the two victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith and the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, police said.
Czuba was taken to the Will County Adult Detention Center, where he awaited his first court appearance.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, identified the mother and son as Hanaan Shahin and Wadea Al-Fayoume, both Palestinian-Americans. They had been residing on the ground floor of the house for two years and had no notable problems with Czuba, their landlord, according to a statement from the advocacy group.
CAIR cited text messages sent by the boy’s mother at the hospital to his father, saying the owner “was angry at what he was seeing on the news.” Then, the owner knocked on the mother’s door, after which he allegedly tried to strangle her and attack her with a knife, according to CAIR, citing the text messages.
“I asked you what level of blind hatred can provoke such an act,” CAIR executive director Ahmed Rahab said at a press conference on Sunday. “And it’s up to us to think about the conditions under which such an act can occur.”
Six-year-old Wadea, who just celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago, loved playing basketball and soccer, according to her father.
“He loved his family and his friends. He loved life. He hoped to live a long, healthy, prosperous life… Like your child, like my child, like all of us did when we were children,” Rehab said . “He has no idea of the larger problems going on in the world, but he has been made to pay for it.”
Youself Hannon, Wadea’s paternal uncle, spoke alongside Rehab at the press conference, delivering a moving message.
“We are not animals,” he said. “We’re humans. We want people to see us as humans, to feel like humans, to treat us like humans, because that’s what we are.”
According to officials, a federal investigation into the incident was initiated by the FBI Chicago Field Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Biden, Johnson and Pritzker release statement
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and President Joe Biden issued statements following the attack, with Biden calling it a “horrible act of hatred.”
Biden’s full statement can be found below:
“Jill and I were shocked and sickened to learn of the brutal murder of a six-year-old child and the attempted murder of the child’s mother in their home yesterday in Illinois.
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 hatred has no place in America and goes against our core values: to be unafraid about how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.
As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of intolerance and hatred. I have said many times that I will not remain silent in the face of hatred. We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hatred against anyone.
We join everyone here at the White House in sending our condolences and prayers to the family, including for the mother’s recovery, as well as to the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim American communities as a whole.”
On Monday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson released a statement.
“I am devastated by the murder of six-year-old Palestinian-American Wadea Al-Fayoume and the attempted murder of his mother in Plainfield, Illinois,” Johnson said. “This despicable hate crime is a shameful reminder of the destructive role Islamophobia plays in our society.”
Groups warn residents to be aware of hate crimes following Israel-Hamas war
In a press release issued earlier this week, CAIR-Chicago reported an increase in hate calls and emails due to recent violence in the Middle East. The dozens of messages the organization has received in recent days rival the amounts received following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and former President Trump’s travel ban on majority-Muslim countries. , depending on the group.
Illinois State Police said Sunday they are urging residents to be vigilant for potential hate crimes and terrorist activity linked to the war between Israel and Hamas.
In a press release, the agency explained that it was coordinating law enforcement activities in response to a high level of war-related violence and hate crimes. As of Sunday evening, there was “no actionable intelligence” regarding credible mass threats in Illinois.
A statement from Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council read, the league read: “We condemn this heinous act in the strongest possible terms. Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother were attacked, and Wadea was murdered, because they are Muslims. May the memory of Wadea be a blessing to all who knew and loved him. and may his mother make a full recovery.”