Mourners Gather for Funeral of Six-Year-Old Muslim Boy Targeted in Hate Crime

Tears and Mourning at Funeral of Murdered Muslim Boy

Heartbreaking Loss in “Little Palestine”

On Monday, tearful mourners gathered to perform funeral prayers in a mosque and laid white and yellow roses at the grave of a six-year-old Muslim boy who was stabbed to death by a man who police said targeted him and his mother because they were Americans of Palestinian descent.

The funeral of the child, Wadih Al-Fayoumi, was held in a mosque in the Bridgeview suburb of Chicago, Illinois, an area known as “Little Palestine” because it includes many Americans of Palestinian origin.

Palestinian flags hung from car windows in a procession towards the mosque, while a digital billboard read: “Stop incitement to violence and hatred against Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities.”

Juhi Fahim, a neighbor of the child’s family, said, “It is heartbreaking. This child does not deserve to die because of what is happening outside.”

“What happened in Plainfield will make people understand that this is harmful to the nation and that this child was killed because he was Muslim, but he could easily have been of any race or ethnic group,” she added.

Rising Tensions Amidst Conflict

The killing of the child Wadih al-Fayoumi comes against the backdrop of the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas after the attack launched by its gunmen on Israelis more than a week ago and the subsequent response by Israel in the Gaza Strip, which is administered by the movement.

The conflict puts the Jewish and Palestinian Muslim communities in the United States in a state of tension and fear of a possible violent reaction against them.

Since the outbreak of the war between Hamas and Israel, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has reported cases of harassment, intimidation, vandalism, or intolerant online posts by people in responsible positions in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, Texas, and other areas.

A Brutal Crime

Police said that the child, Wadih, and his mother, Hanan Shaheen (32 years old), were attacked by the owner of the house that the family rents on Saturday in the town of Plainfield, about 64 kilometers southwest of Chicago. The child was stabbed about 26 times, while his mother suffered multiple injuries. She is expected to survive.

The council said, citing text messages sent by Hanan to her child’s father from the hospital, that the assailant tried to suffocate the mother and said, “You Muslims, you must die.” The man then stabbed the mother and child repeatedly.

Ahmed Rehab, head of CAIR’s office in Chicago, said on Monday, “This is a heavy day. It is the worst nightmare that has come true. He was a beautiful boy. He loved his family and friends. He loved football and basketball. He paid the price for the atmosphere of hatred.”

Ahmed added that the child’s mother came from the West Bank to the United States 12 years ago, and his Palestinian father, who was living in Jordan, immigrated nine years ago.

The suspect, Joseph Chuba, 71 years old, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and battery with a deadly weapon, a district official said.

The Justice Department is also conducting a federal hate crimes investigation.

Chuba did not make any confession during his court appearance on Monday and was detained.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that prosecutors said at the hearing that Chuba became angry about the war and worried about Muslim tenants after listening to conservative radio programs.

The public defender representing Chuba was not available for comment.

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