HomeNews‘Our worst nightmare,’ say Muslims as six-year-old Wadea is buried - Newspaper

‘Our worst nightmare,’ say Muslims as six-year-old Wadea is buried – Newspaper

WASHINGTON: “This is our worst nightmare,” said a statement issued by a Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) after the slaying of a 6-year-old Palestinian boy in a Chicago suburb, Plainfield.

An autopsy on the child — Wadea al-Fayoume — showed he had been stabbed dozens of times as was his mother, Hanaan Shahin. She is now fighting for her life in a Chicago hospital. Wadea, who had just turned 6, was buried on Monday.

Both local and federal law enforcement agencies said they were treating the murder as a ‘hate-crime“ and the Sheriff’s Office in Will County, where the crime was committed, said the boy and his mother, who was injured, were targeted due to their religion.

The local police, who confirmed the murder on Sunday, a day after the crime was committed, identified the 71-year-old suspected murderer as Joseph M. Czuba, the family’s landlord.

Officers said they had seen evidence to suggest that Czuba singled out the victims because of their Islamic faith. Fayoums are the first victim of the hate and suspicion general by the Israeli aggression in Gaza.

The fear expressed in CAIR’s statement echoed hundreds of miles away in a Washington suburb where Ahmed Waleed, a Pakistani American, asked his wife and daughters “not to wear shalwar-qamiz until the tension recedes”.

“People are scared, and they need assurance that they are safe where they live, safe to go work and to return home safely,” said Chaudhary Shamshad, a Muslim community leader in Washington who once was an adviser to the Punjab government.

And the assurance came from no less a person than US President Joe Biden who told American Muslims on Sunday that “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.”

President Biden also acknowledged that “the child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek — a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace.”

CAIR said the crime was part of a disturbing spike in hate calls and emails since the start of the Israeli brutality. The group cited text messages exchanged among family members that showed the attacker had made disparaging remarks about Muslims.

CAIR’s National Strategic Communications Director Ahmed Mehmoud Rehab said, “Now Palestinians (in America) have to also worry about the immediate safety of life and limb living here in this most free of democracies in the world.”

“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,” President Biden told his Muslim citizens.

“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.”

President Biden said that there’s no place in America for hate 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, and to the broader Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim American communities,” he added.

But the boy’s paternal uncle, Yousef Hannon, a Palestinian American, urged other Americans to recognise a basic point: “We are not animals, we are humans.”

Speaking at a news conference in Chicago, he said: “We want people to see us as humans, to feel us as humans, to deal with us as humans, because this is what we are,” said Mr Hannon, who emigrated to the US in 1999 to work, including as a public school teacher.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organisation that combats antisemitism, condemned the killing too. “We’re disgusted and horrified that a 6-year-old boy was murdered, and his mother was severely injured … allegedly because they are Muslim,” the group said in a tweet.

Police said they found the boy and his mother at their home. The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital. The woman had multiple stab wounds and was expected to survive. An autopsy on the child showed he had been stabbed 26 times.

In recent days, police in US cities and federal authorities have been on high alert for violence driven by antisemitic or Islamophobic sentiments. Jewish and Muslim groups have reported an increase of hateful and threatening rhetoric on social media.

According to the Will County sheriff’s office, the woman had called 911 to report that her landlord had attacked her with a knife, adding she then ran into a bathroom and continued to fight him off.

The man suspected in the attack was found later Saturday outside the home and “sitting upright on the ground near the driveway of the residence” with a cut on his forehead, authorities said. Czuba has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He is in custody.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2023

Source: dawn.com

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