Looks like Muslims aren’t all revenge-mongerers, thirsty for blood.
On September 21, 2001, a 41-year old white supremacist from Dallas walked into a gas station and opened fire on people he believed to be Arabs. Enraged by the 9/11 attacks, the shooter, Mark Anthony Stroman, killed an Indian man who was Hindu and a Pakistani man who was Muslim.
Rais Bhuiyan, a 37-year old Muslim Air Force pilot from Bangladesh, was Stroman’s third victim. Shot in the face at close range with a double-barrel gun, Bhuiyan survived the attack, suffering now from partial blindness. After admitting to the attacks, Stroman is scheduled to be executed tomorrow in Texas.
Bhuiyan, the lone survivor of Stroman’s attack, is now trying to save his life. After the attack, Bhuiyan told the New York Times that he spent his time “simply struggling to survive in this country.” But pulling on his profound capacity for forgiveness, he has spent the last several months petitioning Texas to spare Stroman’s life. When asked why, Bhuiyan said his Islamic faith taught him not to seek vengeance and that what Stroman “did was out of ignorance” about Islam:
Q Mr. Stroman has admitted trying to kill you. Why are you trying to save his life?
A I was raised very well by my parents and teachers. They raised me with good morals and strong faith. They taught me to put yourself in others’ shoes. Even if they hurt you, don’t take revenge. Forgive them. Move on. It will bring something good to you and them. My Islamic faith teaches me this too. He said he did this as an act of war and a lot of Americans wanted to do it but he had the courage to do it — to shoot Muslims. After it happened I was just simply struggling to survive in this country. I decided that forgiveness was not enough.That what he did was out of ignorance. I decided I had to do something to save this person’s life. That killing someone in Dallas is not an answer for what happened on Sept. 11.
Q If you had the chance to meet Mr. Stroman, what would you say to him?
A I requested a meeting with Mr. Stroman. I’m eagerly awaiting to see him in person and exchange ideas. I would talk about love and compassion. We all make mistakes. He’s another human being, like me. Hate the sin, not the sinner. It’s very important that I meet him to tell him I feel for him and I strongly believe he should get a second chance. That I never hated the U.S. He could educate a lot of people.
In response to Bhuiyan’s efforts, Stroman had this to say:
Q What do you think of Rais Bhuiyan’s efforts to keep you from being executed?
A “Yes, Mr Rais Bhuiyan, what an inspiring soul…for him to come forward after what ive done speaks Volume’s…and has really Touched My heart and the heart of Many others World Wide…Especially since for the last 10 years all we have heard about is How Evil the Islamic faith Can be…its proof that all are Not bad nor Evil.”
Stroman’s realization stands in stark contrast — and as a strong rebuke — of the nation’s continuing descent into an Islamophobic age. Americans are living through a time when theexistence of Islam in the U.S. is seen as an insidious infiltration of homegrown terror and the sight of anything or anyone Islamic sparks visceral paranoia and outrage. Instead of fighting this reactionary tide, conservative politicians are exploiting the right-wing hatred as a way to raise their profile. Be it through congressional hearings or campaign platforms, the marginalization of Americans because of their faith threatens our core values and cultivates the very attitudes that stoke those like Stroman to violence.
Bhuiyan’s “deep Islamic Beliefs Have gave him the strength to Forgive the Un-forgiveable…that is truly Inspiring to me, and should be an Example for us all. The Hate, has to stop, we are all in this world together,” said Stroman. “Its almost been 10 years since The world stopped Turning, and we as a nation will never be able to forget what we felt that day, I surely wont, but I can tell you what im feeling Today, and that’s very grateful for Rais Bhuiyan’s Efforts to save my life after I tried to end His.”