A Lesson in Forgiveness: Rais Bhuiyan’s Attempt to Save His Attacker Fails
Days after the 9/11 attacks, 31-year-old Mark Anthony Stroman went on a shooting spree. He killed 2 South-Asian immigrants and shot another in the face at close range. That man escaped death but is now partially blind. His name is Rais Bhuiyan.
Bhuiyan spent years recovering from the injuries but says he has also grown spiritually. Since late last year, Bhuiyan began collecting signatures on a petition asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Stroman’s death penalty sentence to life in prison without parole through his website “World without Hate“.
Bhuiyan says,[quote]”I’ve had many years to grow spiritually. I’m trying to do my best not to allow the loss of another human life. I’ll knock on every door possible.”[/quote]
According to Stroman’s testimony in trial, he was on a long meth “run” when he went on the shooting spree and had been consumed by watching TV coverage in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He believed that he was personally avenging the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
In a letter to a friend from prison in 2002, Stroman bragged of the shootings in rhyme, saying he carried them out as revenge for the attacks by Muslim extremists: “Here sits the Arab Slayer. For what he did, we should make him our mayor,” he wrote. “… Patriotic, yes indeed, a true American, a special breed.”
Stroman has since expressed remorse and admitted wrongdoing.
“I cannot tell you that I am an innocent man. I am not asking you to feel sorry for me and I won’t hide the truth,” he wrote on an undated webpage. “I am a human being and made a terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger, and believe me I am paying for it every single minute of the day and it haunts me in my sleep as well.”
Bhuiyan’s manifestation of forgiveness
From the article from MSNBC:
Bhuiyan, who is now a U.S. citizen, says he actually forgave Stroman long ago, but only recently realized that his faith called him to do more.
His transformation started within days of the shooting, he said, when he was still bleeding heavily and didn’t know if he would live.
“I was in the hospital praying,” he says. “I promised that if I survived I would give my life to mankind.”
Bhuiyan’s physical and emotional recovery took years. He had a series of surgeries to save his eye — though he lost his vision on that side — and to reconstruct his face, now nearly restored except for the shotgun pellets that remains lodged under his skin. Remarkably, he suffered no brain damage.
By the time Bhuiyan had fully recovered from his injuries in 2007, he had lost his fiancé because his planned return to Bangladesh to get married had been delayed for years.
In the meantime, he said he delved more deeply into the teachings of the Quran, which led him to forgive Stroman. “In Islam, forgiveness is the best policy,” he said. “This is the real Islam, the true message.”
But it took time for him to conclude that foregiveness was not enough.
“For several years, I was simply struggling to survive in this country where I did not have any of my family members,” said Bhuiyan. “(But) I had plenty of time to grow spiritually, and by seeing lot of killings and hate crimes all over the world … it helped me to realize that hate does not bring lasting solution to any situation.
“When I felt I was able to help others, I started thinking about doing something for Mark Stroman. I realized forgiving him is not enough. I must do the best I can to save his life.”
Efforts Come to Naught
Despite Bhuiyan’s appeals and efforts to save his attacker’s life, Texas governor Rick Perry, did not grant clemency to Stroman.
Mr Bhuiyan, in his lawsuit against the Texas governor said: ‘Please do the right thing, save a human life.
‘Please, listen to my request and lower Mark’s punishment from death to life in prison,’ he said.[pullquote_left]If the Governor of Texas and the Board of Pardons and Parole can listen to the victims when they want revenge, why can they not listen when the victims are asking for mercy?[/pullquote_left]
‘If the Governor of Texas and the Board of Pardons and Parole can listen to the victims when they want revenge, why can they not listen when the victims are asking for mercy?
‘I strongly believe Mark Stroman is a different person. I believe if Mark is given a chance to live, he will become a spokesperson in raising awareness for hate crimes.’
He added: ‘He is another human being like me, and if given the chance I would definitely give him a hug to show him I have nothing against him at this moment.
‘I forgave Mark Stroman several years back. Let’s break the cycle of hate and violence.’
Bhuiyan’s appeals and calls for help has been denied and Stroman will be killed by lethal injection today.