Hate crime victim works to save perpetrator from death row

These side-by-side interviews, with a hate crime victim who was shot in the face and the death row inmate who shot him, are simply breathtaking.

Ten days after the attacks of September 11, in Texas, Mark Anthony Stroman shot three people, killing two of them. The third, a man named Rais Bhuiyan, survived, but with grave injuries. Now, Stroman is on death row and his execution is just weeks away, and Bhuiyan is working to secure his reprieve from the death penalty.

The New York Times interviewed Bhuiyan by phone, and Stroman by letter. The result is some of the most heart-wrenching description of violence and forgiveness I’ve ever come across.

When asked why he is trying to save the life of a man who tried to end his, Bhuiyan told the Times:

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.

And, when asked about Bhuiyan’s efforts to stop his execution, Stroman wrote,

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.

Go read the whole thing. It really is one of the most remarkable things you will ever read.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/velliat/ K

    “…its proof that all are Not bad nor Evil.”? The guy who shoots Muslims in the face has the gall to respond with “Eh, I guess they’re not ALL bad” when his victim wants to spare his life?

    Rais is truly inspiring and commendable. To actively fight for his attacker’s right to life is something not a lot of us would do (me included). I hope he gets the recognition that he deserves and wins his battle. And hopefully Stroman will be able to see the light instead of making backhanded comments about how “inspired” he is.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    If I live my faith, I am to do the same thing. Thank you for the reminder, Chloe.