Mother of Palestinian boy who was killed in hate crime speaks out
A Palestinian American mother who lost her 6-year-old son in Illinois in a brutal hate crime amid the Israel-Hamas war earlier this month spoke out for the first time on Wednesday. She called for justice and peace in her first public comments since the tragedy.
Hanaan Shahin, 32, said her son, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was an angel who was killed by their landlord, Joseph Czuba, on Oct. 14. She also said she was stabbed more than a dozen times by Czuba, who allegedly yelled, “You Muslims must die!” before attacking them with a 12-inch military-style knife.
“I need justice,” Shahin told ABC News.
“How can you live without justice? And how you will be in peace without justice?”
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Shahin hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent her. She also asked for prayers for peace from the public.
“Pray for peace,” Shahin said.
“We need many, many prayers for peace. You know, and then God will give us peace. We need to pray for peace.”
According to the Will County Sheriff's Office, Czuba targeted Shahin and her son because they were Muslim and because of the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and Israel.
“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The Department of Justice has also launched a federal investigation into Al-Fayoume's death.
Shahin and her son had been living on the ground floor of Czuba's home for about two years, the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Chicago chapter (CAIR-Chicago) said.
The group condemned the violence as the “worst nightmare” of the Muslim community, which has seen a rise in hate crimes after the war between Hamas and Israel.
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The group said Czuba “had been angry with what he was seeing in the news” and attacked Shahin and her son, whom he had a “good relationship” with before, according to the boy's father.
Czuba was arrested at the scene and taken to a hospital for a cut on his forehead, police said. He faces charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two hate crime counts, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Czuba is currently in custody at Will County's Adult Detention facility.