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The mother of a 6-year-old Muslim boy, who was fatally stabbed in what is believed to be a hate crime related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas

Wednesday, 25 October 2023 11:36 Opinion

The mother of a 6-year-old Muslim boy, who was fatally stabbed in what is believed to be a hate crime related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, has issued her first statement, calling on the public to "pray for peace" following the tragic killing.

Vadei Al-Fayoum, a 6-year-old Palestinian boy, and his mother, 32-year-old Hanan Shahin, were both stabbed multiple times with a serrated military-style knife in their suburban Chicago home on October 14 during a confrontation with their landlord, who allegedly attacked them because they were Muslims, according to the Will County Sheriff's Office.

Their landlord, 71-year-old Joseph Chuba, allegedly inflicted 26 knife wounds on Vadei and about a dozen on his mother, as reported by the sheriff's office.

The head of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country, said he met with Shahin on Monday after her release from the hospital.

When asked if she had any statement, she replied, "Just... pray for peace," according to Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of CAIR-Chicago.

"She spoke about her son, saying, 'He was my best friend,'" Rehab said.

"We spent most of our time together, hearing her stories about how smart and funny her boy was, how he cared for the planet, and how he always loved to join her in prayer," reads a statement from Rehab published on Tuesday.

According to Rehab, Shahin is focused on her "physical and mental recovery" after the attack. He stated that she is healing well from her injuries and is "fully functional but tired."

"Despite the painful loss and the trauma she endured that morning, her spirit is strong, and she finds peace and answers in her faith in God," Rehab said. "She said she acknowledges that God chose them for this trial and that she finds solace in remembering Vadei as an angel on Earth and knowing that he is now an angel in heaven."

According to her attorney Ben Crump, Shahin plans to speak at a press conference on Wednesday, which will be her first public statement regarding the attack.

"The pain that the Al-Fayoum family has endured is immeasurable," Crump said in his statement on Tuesday. "No family should suffer such a devastating loss compounded by the burden of enormous medical bills. We must come together as a society not only to seek justice for Vadei but also to support this grieving family during this difficult time."

Chuba, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and two counts of hate crime in connection with the attack. He did not enter a plea during his arraignment on October 16 and was ordered to be held without bond.

During an address in the Oval Office on Thursday, President Biden condemned the killing and expressed concern about Jewish communities becoming targets amid the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which erupted following Hamas' sudden attack on October 7.

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