Citing the “barbaric killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume,” the 6-year-old Palestinian American boy from Plainfield who was allegedly stabbed to death because of his Muslim faith and ethnic background, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday they would develop a national strategy to battle Islamophobia.
The Biden White House action comes as the Israel-Hamas war continues.
Here’s what the Biden administration is doing and why:
What the White House said in a statement: The administration “will develop the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia in the United States. We look forward to continuing our work with community leaders, advocates, members of Congress, and more to develop the strategy — which will be a joint effort led by the Domestic Policy Council and the National Security Council — and counter the scourge of Islamophobia and hate in all its forms. For too long, Muslims in America, and those perceived to be Muslim, such as Arabs and Sikhs, have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents. We all mourn the recent barbaric killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American Muslim boy, and the brutal attack on his mother in their home outside Chicago.”
Overview context: The Biden White House is grappling with soaring criticism within the Muslim American community for its support of Israel’s ongoing military attack on Hamas in Gaza, as the Palestinian death toll, in the thousands, is rising. The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the Oct. 7 surprise Hamas rampage, resulting in 1,400 murders and more than 200 hostages taken and still being held in Gaza, whose population is under Hamas control.
Chicago area tragedy: A Plainfield landlord, Joseph Czuba, has been charged with stabbing Hanan Shaheen on Oct. 15 and killing her son Wadea Al-Fayoume. Will County prosecutors said Czuba acted because of the Muslim faith of his tenants.
In prime-time remarks to the nation a few days after the Plainfield attack, Biden threw a spotlight on the killing of young Wadea as he condemned the crime and Islamophobia. Biden also called the child’s family.
“Approaching with caution,” reaction from CAIR-Chicago (Council On American-Islamic Relations) Executive Director Ahmed Rehab: Rehab, who helped arrange the White House calls, said that “given the imbalanced statements that have come out of the White House that have contributed to the atmosphere of otherization, dehumanization and Islamophobia, we are approaching (the Biden announcement) with caution, given the atmosphere.”
More on Biden Islamophobia strategy: Biden’s actions on the domestic front to address Islamophobia came as the U.S. continues to support the government of Israel’s vow to destroy Hamas. Polls are showing Biden’s support from Arab Americans is dropping.
The White House said the strategy “will be a comprehensive and detailed plan created in partnership with communities to protect Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim because of their race, national origin, ancestry or any other reason, from discrimination, hate, bigotry and violence.”
Antisemitism rising: The Biden White House is also exploring ways to address increasing antisemitism on colleges campuses, another byproduct of the war. In September, Biden’s first-ever National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism was released, coming as antisemitism, even before the war, was on the rise.