A 6-year-old Palestinian American boy passed away on Saturday due to fatal stab wounds from an attack that police say was a result of their Muslim identities, CNN reports. The boy’s mother, 32, also suffered serious injury during the attack and is in the hospital and expected to survive, according to ABC7.
Police arrested the suspect, Chicago landlord Joseph Czuba, 71, who is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Authorities told CNN that they had been called to the residence just before noon on Saturday, where they found Czuba sitting outside and the victims in the bedroom. The boy suffered 26 stab wounds, and the mother had been stabbed over a dozen times.
According to ABC7, the Will County Sheriff’s Office described the crime as “senseless” and “cowardly,” also claiming, “Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islam Relations (CAIR) issued a press release condemning the crime. “CAIR-Chicago is again calling on officials and broadcasters to reconsider fanning an atmosphere of hate and de-humanization, not seen since the aftermath of 9/11 which puts communities at certain risk,” it reads.
CAIR also shared text messages sent from the mother to the boy’s father during the attack, in which she wrote that the landlord had tried to choke her and then attacked her with a knife, yelling, “You Muslims must die!” When she ran into the bathroom to call the police, she emerged to find that he had also attacked her son.
“It all happened so fast,” read one of her texts.
CAIR connected this crime to a trend in unbalanced coverage of the Israel war in Gaza. “This unthinkable senseless crime did not happen in a vacuum,” CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said in the statement.
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