October 16, 2023
NATIONWIDE – Stop AAPI Hate has issued the following statement in response to the murder of Wadea Al-Fayoume in Plainfield, Illinois over the weekend:
“We are horrified and devastated to learn that a six-year-old child in Illinois, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was brutally murdered, and his mother critically wounded, by their landlord simply for being Muslim. Law enforcement has charged the man with a hate crime, stating he attacked the Palestinian American family ‘due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.’
“We grieve for the tragic loss of his young life. And as a coalition dedicated to tracking and preventing acts of hate in the U.S, we are also deeply concerned for our communities across the nation — many of which are currently living in a heightened state of fear that in many ways mirrors what American Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians experienced post-9/11. In addition to many Southeast Asian Americans who are Muslim, about a quarter of Asian Americans who trace their ethnic origin to South Asia have some connection to Islam.
“We know all too well that rhetoric used by elected officials, the media, and other leaders can have profound impacts on our safety and security. South Asians, Muslims, and Sikh Americans felt this heavily in the wake of 9/11 – suffering bias, discrimination, and attacks at a time when scapegoating of American Muslims fueled hate to levels so high that anyone who could potentially be perceived as Middle Eastern or Muslim, even if they were not, were in constant fear for their safety. More recently, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and growing geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments, reckless anti-Chinese political rhetoric continues to fuel racism and hate against Asian Americans — including those who are not ethnically Chinese.
“Now, thousands of miles away from the Israel-Hamas war, we’re seeing dangerous political rhetoric and news coverage here that is encouraging people to conflate the actions of leaders at war with innocent people and children like Wadea.
“This moment represents an inflection point, and the danger of discussing international affairs from a place of prejudice and bigotry is well-documented. Both Muslim and Jewish groups in the U.S. have recently reported an increase in hate and threats directed at their communities. Political figures, members of the media, community leaders and others with influential platforms must act responsibly in this moment and avoid inflammatory language and misinformation that will cause further harm. We wholeheartedly condemn dehumanizing rhetoric, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism, and we call on all leaders to do the same.”
We encourage Asians and Asian Americans who have experienced any act of hate in the U.S. — including racial profiling, verbal harassment, and other attacks based on religion, ethnicity, national origin, or race — to report to us here so we can track how our communities are currently being impacted.