Bidens console family of young boy killed in anti-Palestinian hate crime

October 22, 2023

As the world continues to brace for fallout from the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden took time out of their schedules to speak with the family of a Palestinian-American boy who died as the result of a hate crime near Chicago last week, as The Hill reports.

The death of six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume was the result of a stabbing attack perpetrated by the landlord of the building in which the boy lived, and authorities believe that the suspect was motivated by anti-Palestinian animus, as the Associated Press explained.

Horrific tragedy

As local Chicago television outlet WGN reported, it was last Saturday that the young child was at home with his mother, Hanaan Shahin, when the family's 71-year-old landlord – a man named Joseph Czuba – entered the premises and attacked both with a knife.

The violence was said to have ensued after Shanin suggested that they “pray for peace” in the wake of the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East.

Suffering a reported 26 stab wounds, the boy was unable to overcome his injuries, and according to the AP, his mother was also critically harmed in the attack.

Mourners at Wadea's funeral service, including Plainfield, Illinois Mayor John Argoudelis, remembered the child as an all-American boy who loved basketball, soccer, and building with Legos.

Bidens reach out

The White House noted in a statement issued on Thursday that the first couple contacted members of the Al-Fayoume family to offer their sentiments of sympathy and their hopes for healing.

“The President and First Lady expressed their deepest condolences to the Alfayoumi family as they mourn; their prayers that Wadea's mother, Hannan Shahin, makes a full recovery; and their commitment to keep speaking out against anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate and violence,” the statement read.

Wadea's death was mentioned by the president in his Oval Office address on Thursday evening as part of his denunciation of antisemitism and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

According to The Hill, Mrs. and Mrs. Biden's call to Wadea's father and uncle took place immediately after the speech.

Interfaith unity

It was not just the Bidens who spoke publicly about the need to stamp out all forms of hatred following the senseless murder, with Sheikh Tariq Musleh of the Mecca Center near Wadea's home saying in the wake of the boy's killing, “He was a child, who after just recently celebrating his birthday, spent his final moments on this Earth comforting his own mother, who watched him take his last breath.”

Musleh added, "I want to ask my fellow Americans to take a step back and ask ourselves, in what world, what faith tradition, what civil society could such a heinous crime be acceptable?"

A local Episcopal pastor, Gregg Morris, echoed those sentiments and stated of the tragedy, “This is the grossest example of disrespecting another human being, because of their religious views”

The suburban Chicago community -- and indeed the entire nation -- is united in the hope that Wadea's family receives at least some measure of justice and closure in the months and years to come.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
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