'Mom, I'm fine': Last words of Muslim boy, 6, stabbed to death as hundreds of mourners gather for funeral

17 October 2023, 06:59

Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed to death. His mother remains in hospital
Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed to death. His mother remains in hospital. Picture: Facebook
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Hundreds of mourners have gathered for the funeral of a six-year-old Muslim boy who was killed after being stabbed 26 times 'over his religion'.

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Wadea Al-Fayoume was killed with a seven inch military style serrated blade on Saturday in Plainfield Township, southwest of Chicago over the weekend.

Wadea's last words were "Mom, I'm fine", according to his uncle. His mother, Hanaan Shahin, 32, was also injured in the attack.

She was unable to attend her son's funeral as she remains in hospital. She is expected to survive.

"He's a 6-year-old kid. As any other 6-year-old kid, he likes to play games. I just want to tell the whole world that we live in a country called USA," Wadea's uncle, Mahmoud Yousef, said at a press conference before the funeral.

"We're not at war, and we're not bringing war here, too."

Read more: Gaza 'running out of life': UN warns food and water 'in scarce supply' as Israel vows 'fateful' hour looms for Hamas

The family's landlord, a 71-year-old man, Joseph Czuba, of Illinois, has charged with first degree murder and two counts of hate crime.

He is was "upset" about the Israel-Hamas conflict and allegedly 'became paranoid after thinking his tenants would attack him'.

Wadea was killed in what police described as a hate crime motivated by the Israel-Hamas war
Wadea was killed in what police described as a hate crime motivated by the Israel-Hamas war. Picture: Social media

President Joe Biden said the family is Palestinian Muslim and they "came to America seeking what we all seek - a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace".

"This horrific act of hate has no place in America," the president added.

Will County Sheriff's office said: "Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israeli."

Police said they concluded he was motivated in response to the war, which has killed more than 2,000 across Israel and Palestine, after gathering evidence and carrying out interviews.

They found Czuba sitting on the ground outside the home with a cut to his forehead while the victims were discovered in a bedroom.

He is also charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and is awaiting a court appearance.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations identified the boy and his mother and called for politicians, the media and social platforms to stop the spread of "Islamophobic rhetoric and anti-Palestinian racism".

Read more: London pro-Palestine march turns ugly as protesters clash with police, setting off flares and fireworks, as 15 arrested

Czuba has been charged with killing the six-year-old boy
Czuba has been charged with killing the six-year-old boy. Picture: US police

There are fears about community tensions rising as the war rages on.

In London, thousands marched in a demonstration for Palestine as police arrested 15 people on Saturday.

During that protest, a man carrying a Union flag was arrested after being accused of hurling racist abuse.

There has also been a huge spike in antisemitic incidents in the capital.

Police said last week that in the two weeks from September 30 - which includes Hamas's October 7 massacre - antisemitic incidents rose by 650% compared to the same period a year earlier.