CHICAGO, Ill. (Oct. 15, 2023) – The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization issued states and held press conferences decrying the stabbing to death of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy and the stabbing of his mother as “our worst nightmare.”
CAIR-Chicago expressed full confidence that local authorities would investigate and prosecute this repugnant attack as a hate crime.
Also the organization is again calling on officials and broadcasters to reconsider fanning an atmosphere of hate and de-humanization, not seen since the aftermath of 9/11 which puts communities at certain risk.
CAIR-Chicago held a press conference with the father of the deceased boy on Sun., Oct. 15, at the Muslim Community Center, 4380 N. Elston Ave., in Chicago.
At the press conference, Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, was accompanied by Oday Al-Fayoume, father of the deceased child.
The mother, Hanaan Shahin, and her son Wadea Al-Fayoume had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years with no previous notable issues with the landlord, reportedly named to be 71-year-old Joseph Czuba.
According to written text messages sent to the father of the boy by the mother from the hospital and shared with CAIR-Chicago, the landlord who had been angry with what he was seeing in the news knocked on their door. When she opened, he tried to choke her and proceeded to attack her with a knife, yelling, “You Muslims must die!”
When she ran into the bathroom to call 911, she came out to find that he had stabbed her 6-year-old son to death. “It all happened in seconds,” she texted.
Ahmed Rehab, related, “Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with the darling boy and his mother. As we await the official investigation of the local authorities, what we can confirm at the moment is that we have a murdered child in his own home, a 6-year-old who had just celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a mother lying in the hospital in serious condition, both stabbed over a dozen times.
“And we have testimony from the mother as to the harrowing moments that unfolded in terms of what was done and said – and it is our worst nightmare. We have full confidence in the authorities to investigate this heinous incident as a hate crime and to do so swiftly.”
CAIR-Chicago said the suspect was in custody, as news reports have confirmed.
In a press release issued Oct. 11, Rehab warned: “[One-sided] statements issued by public officials and one-sided reporting by the media has [helped] create [a] lop-sided atmosphere in which members of our community are essentially sitting ducks.
“This is doubly concerning because we had come to believe that we had learned the hard lessons from the darkest days of flippant Islamophobia in the years after 9/11, where the lack of balanced leadership of our elected leaders, and the irresponsible and biased reporting by the media, directly contributed to hanging our communities out to dry.”
CAIR-Chicago renewed its call for responsible leadership and balanced media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East. “This unthinkable senseless crime did not happen in a vacuum,” Rehab warned again.
CAIR’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.