Statement on Death of Wadea Al-Fayoume and Rising Islamophobia

Our hearts are heavy with the news from Plainfield, Illinois, where a landlord violently attacked six-year-old Palestinian American boy Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother Hanaan Shahin in a horrific act of Islamophobia. The attack took Wadea’s life and left his mother severely injured. Less than a week later, a man threatened to shoot two Muslim men in Lombard, Illinois.

Multiple Muslim and Jewish American groups have reported upticks in threats and hate mail in the past week. With escalating violence and climbing death tolls in Gaza, we know that these developments abroad, and the media narrative surrounding them, impact our communities at home. We mourn the loss of innocent lives in Plainfield, Palestine, and Israel, and we offer our deepest condolences to all families who have lost loved ones.

The threat to Muslim American communities and anyone perceived to be Muslim has particularly intensified as politicians at all levels of government and members of the media have fanned the flames of Islamophobia with selective outrage over Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians while remaining silent on what a United Nations expert is calling a “grave danger of mass ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago calls on politicians and members of the media to share a complete and nuanced story of continued developments so as not to obscure historical context and endanger more of our neighbors with the horrifying consequences of rhetoric that paints an entire community as violent.