Funeral held for Palestinian-American boy stabbed to death in Illinois

Funeral held for Palestinian-American boy stabbed to death in Illinois

Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed 26 times by landlord in attack motivated by victims' Islamic faith

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) - Hundreds of people gathered Monday at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois for the funeral of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy who was brutally stabbed to death in an attack that targeted him and his mother which was motivated by their Islamic faith and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The assailant, Joseph Czuba, who is the victims' landlord, carried out the attack on Saturday, and the Will County Sheriff’s Office said that based on a forensic pathologist’s examination, the boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was stabbed 26 times throughout his body.

His 32-year-old mother suffered over a dozen stab wounds. She is expected to survive.

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

The US Justice Department has launched a federal hate crime investigation into the boy’s murder.

The child's father, Oday Al-Fayoume, said before the funeral prayer that he was there as the father of the boy, not as a "political person, or a religious person, or anything."

"I’m here as the father of a child whose rights were taken from him,” he said in Arabic.

Calling his son a "gift" and a "martyr," he said he hopes that families in Gaza “accept him from me as such.”

Ahmed Rehab, head of the Chicago office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said it was an attack on "all of us," adding: "We were all stabbed that day."

Attending the funeral, Rep. Chuy Garcia, a progressive congressman from Illinois, wrote on X that he was there "to support his family and our Palestinian and Muslim community."

"We hold Wadea’s mom, Hanaan Shahin, in our prayers as she recovers from her injuries during this time of unspeakable tragedy," he said.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker also joined the Muslim community and Illinoisans of all faiths at the Mosque Foundation to mourn the loss of Wadea Al-Fayoume and to pay their respects to his family.

"As Governor of Illinois, I condemn bigotry and violence. I won’t be silent in the face of this evil in any form," he wrote on X.

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