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Published on June 11, 2024
Chicago Boy Slain in Alleged Hate Crime, Family Sues Landlord and Accomplices Amidst National OutcrySource: Unsplash/Tingey Injury Law Firm

In a harrowing incident that exposes the intersections of racial hatred and violence, Hanan Shaheen, the mother of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, is grappling with the aftermath of her son's killing in what is being considered a hate crime. According to Chicago Sun-Times, the amended lawsuit filed in Will County alleges that not only their landlord, Joseph Czuba, played a role in the tragic October 14 attack but also his wife and brother were complicit. The legal action claims they failed to warn the family despite the landlord's reported prejudiced beliefs against Arabs and Muslims.

The murder of Wadea occurred shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, an event that reportedly fueled Czuba's anger towards Muslims and Palestinians. It is suggested that his sentiments were further radicalized by a steady diet of conservative talk radio. Despite assurances from the landlord's wife that Shaheen and her son were safe, Czuba is accused of stabbing the young boy 26 times in a fit of discriminatory violence, leaving him to die in his home near Plainfield, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit expands to accuse Mary Czuba, the landlord’s wife, and Daniel Czuba, Joseph’s brother and the real estate agent who recommended the property to Shaheen, of negligence. Allegations state Daniel Czuba did not disclose “his brother’s violent tendencies, temper, and prejudiced beliefs against Arabs and Muslims,” as reported by the Sun-Times. The issues surrounding the attack have not only led to a wrongful death lawsuit but have also prompted a federal hate crime investigation. Attorney John Simon, representing the Al-Fayoume family, said, "We are welcoming the opportunity to get to the bottom of what caused this man to do this and who knew about it."

President Joe Biden named Wadea in a national address, reflecting the gravity of the incident and the widespread condemnation it has received. The attack has reportedly led to Shahin and her late son being targeted because they were Muslim and Palestinian, an indication of the dangerous currents of xenophobia that can lead to unspeakable violence. The pursuit of justice for the Al-Fayoume family now rests in the hands of the legal system, with Joseph Czuba’s criminal case progressing as he remains jailed on charges of murder and hate crime, with a court date set for June 14 as noted by the Tribune.