Hate crime victim forgives attacker

Kelsey Elam

 

Rais Bhuiyan, a national speaker on hate crimes, spoke to Georgia Southern University students last night about a hate crime that almost ended his life.

Days after the 9/11 attack, Mark Anthony Stroman shot three convenience-store workers who he believed were Muslim and, therefore, terrorists. Bhuiyan was the only survivor.

“He shot me from four to five feet away with a double barreled shotgun in my face, but I was lucky enough to survive by the mercy of God,” Bhuiyan said.

Initially, Bhuiyan did not realize he was being robbed. He believed Stroman was trying to sell him a shotgun, which Bhuiyan said was common in that area.

“Once I offered him the cash, he asked me where I was from, and I wasn’t sure why he was asking me where I was from,” Bhuiyan said. “Because I was confused, I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And after I spoke, I felt the sensation of a million bees stinging my face on the right side, and then I heard the explosion.”

Bhuiyan remarkably recovered from the close-range shooting and began the long process of recovery, healing and forgiving.

“In that type of situation you have three options:  You can ask for equal justice, you can ask for financial compensation or you can forgive.  And once you forgive, the person you have forgiven should not be punished anymore,” Bhuiyan said. “I made my choice based on my faith, and I forgave him.”

Today, Bhuiyan has a full-time job as an IT Manager. He said he made a promise to God to share his story with others and help others understand why forgiveness and understanding are so important.

“Mark Stroman did not represent his white community, his Christian community or the people of America. He is just representing himself. He is only representing one,” Bhuiyan said.

“All of those 19 hijackers who made that attack on 9/11, they do not represent me. They do not represent the 1.5 million Muslims all across the world.  In their mind they thought they were justified in what they were doing, but they do not represent me,” Bhuiyan said.

Stroman, who was executed in 2011 for his crimes, was a changed man by the time he died, Bhuiyan said.

“Stroman’s last words were, ‘Even though I lay on this gurney, seconds away from my death, I am at total peace. May the Lord Jesus Christ be with me. I am at peace. Hate is going on in this world, and it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain,’” Buiyan said.

“People are trying to spread fear and hatred against Muslims so that they can keep us divided, and if your mind is full of fear or hatred it’s easy to control,” Bhuiyan said.

Bhuiyan’s presentation is one of the many events Amnesty International has hosted in the past two years.

Jordan Logue, GSU student and one of Amnesty International’s founders, said, Amnesty International founded the organization to teach students about relevant issues, issues they may not be able to learn about in the media.