Wadea Al Fayoume: Man pleads not guilty to murder of Palestinian-American boy

Authorities say Joseph Czuba attacked child and his mother due to their Muslim faith

Funeral held for Muslim boy stabbed to death in Chicago

Funeral held for Muslim boy stabbed to death in Chicago
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An Illinois man on Monday pleaded not guilty to a hate crime and murder charges in the fatal stabbing of a Palestinian-American boy that also left the child's mother in a critical condition.

Joseph Czuba, 71, attacked six-year-old Wadea Al Fayoume and his mother Hanaan Shahin on October 14. Authorities said Ms Czuba attacked them due to their Muslim faith.

“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the continuing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the Will County Sheriff's Office said at the time.

Wadea died at the scene. His mother is still recovering after being in critical condition.

Dozens of people attended Wadea's funeral last week at a mosque in a Chicago suburb.

Mr Czuba appeared in court wearing a red jail uniform and did not speak during the hearing, which took place in Joliet, a town 80km south-west of Chicago, AP reported. His lawyer entered the not guilty plea.

Judge David Carson ruled that Mr Czuba will remain in jail as he awaits his next court hearing on January 8.

Prosecutors argued that Mr Czuba remains a threat to Ms Shahin and "is a threat to the safety of the community".

Lawyers for Mr Czuba disagreed with the decision, citing his age and that he is a US veteran who has no criminal convictions.

The indictment against Mr Czuba said Wadea's murder was the result of “exceptionally brutal or heinous behaviour”.

Ms Shahin told police that Mr Czuba – the family's landlord – was upset over the Israel-Gaza war and attacked them after she asked him to “pray for peace”.

The Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 resulted in about 1,400 deaths, with roughly 200 people taken hostage.

Israel has bombed Gaza in the weeks since the assault, with its state goal of wiping wipe out Hamas. The siege has left more than 8,000 people dead, including more than 3,400 children.

The stabbings were part of a reported rise in Islamophobic and anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred since the Hamas attack.

Updated: October 30, 2023, 5:53 PM