March 14, 2024

Slain Palestinian American boy honored with Congressional resolution backed by Illinois members

Wadee Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old from Plainfield, was slain Oct. 14. Law enforcement officials said he was a victim of a hate crime, targeted for his Muslim faith.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times


WASHINGTON — Twelve members of Congress from Illinois introduced a resolution to honor Wadee Al-Fayoume, the 6-year-old Palestinian American boy from Plainfield who law enforcement officials said was slain Oct. 14 in an anti-Muslim hate crime.

The measure is backed by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and House representatives Jonathan Jackson, Robin Kelly, Delia Ramirez, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Mike Quigley, Sean Casten, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jan Schakowsky, Bill Foster and Lauren Underwood — all Illinois Democrats. The resolution states, “the United States has zero tolerance for hate crimes, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab discrimination.”

“Targeting someone based on their ethnicity or religion is un-American, and targeting an innocent child based on those characteristics is pure hatred,” Durbin said. “Our nation mourns with the family” of the boy, “a mere child who was taken too soon. By introducing this resolution, we are honoring and remembering his life and condemning all forms of hate. We must keep speaking out against anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate everywhere.”

Duckworth said the boy was “a precious, innocent 6-year-old who lost his life in an unimaginably cruel way, just because of his Palestinian Muslim identity. This barbaric, cold-blooded murder was a chilling act of hate against the Palestinian community in Illinois, and we must do everything in our power to denounce and stop more hatred and violence. I’m proud to introduce this resolution with Senator Durbin and Representatives Ramirez and Underwood today honoring Wadee’s life and legacy. May his memory live on and serve as a reminder that we must be united in our shared goal of ending — rather than perpetuating — the needless suffering of innocent human beings.”

The boy’s landlord, Joseph Czuba, 71, faces criminal charges in Will County. He’s accused of attacking the boy and his mother, Hanan Shaheen, with a knife.

The Department of Justice has opened a hate crime investigation into the events leading to the attacks.

The boy died at the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Hamas fighters from Gaza attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 and taking hostages, many of whom are still held captive in Gaza. In the five months since, Israeli military strikes in Gaza in pursuit of Hamas have killed tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, forced massive relocations of residents, and destroyed homes and hospitals, leaving the population with little food and other resources.

Underwood’s district includes Plainfield. The Chicago area is home to the largest Palestinian and Palestinian American population in the U.S.

Wadee “brought so much joy and light to our community in Plainfield. He deserved to live a full and happy life. Instead, he was killed in a brutal attack driven by bigotry and bias,” Underwood said. “Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian hate have no place in Illinois, or anywhere in our country, and I’m honored to have worked with Wadee’s family, leaders in our community, and my colleagues in Congress on this resolution that honors his life and memory.”

“The rise of hate crimes, anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and hateful rhetoric is taking precious lives away from our communities and putting all of us in grave danger. We must ensure that no other children, families, or communities suffer as a result of vile rhetoric,” Ramirez said.

By:  Lynn Sweet