A white supremacist killer is set to die in Texas on Wednesday. Not if one of his victims has anything to say about it.
In the three weeks following the 9/11 attacks, Dallas white supremacist Mark Stroman set out on a mission to kill Muslim men. Later he said he was angry that government officials "hadn't done their job, so he was going to do it for them." Four days after the World Trade Center fell, Stroman killed Waqar Hasan, a 46-year-old Pakistani man, with a gunshot to the head in Hasan's convenience store. Six days after that he shot Rais Bhuiyan in the face at a gas station. Bhuiyan went blind in one eye, but survived. Lastly, on October 4, Stroman shot Vasudev Patel, an Indian immigrant who was Hindu, killing him instantly. Stroman was caught after killing Patel and has since pleaded guilty to his crimes.
Under Texas' notoriously strict capital punishment laws, Stroman was sentenced to death. He is set to be killed by lethal injection on Wednesday. It turns out, however, that one of the biggest opponents of his death sentence is also the most unlikely: Bhuiyan, Stroman's sole surviving victim.
In the years since being shot, Bhuiyan has undergone several surgeries to repair his face. Yet despite the enduring trauma, he's also grown to believe that Stroman's life should be spared. In that pursuit, Bhuiyan has started a petition on behalf of Stroman, World Without Hate, and partnered with Stroman's defense attorney help appeal the death sentence down to life in prison. They've got their work cut out for them, however: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has only recommended a single death-penalty commutation in the 229 executions Texas has performed in the last 11 years. Governor Rick Perry denied that recommendation.
Regardless of what ultimately happens, Bhuiyan says his Muslim faith is what compels his petition for clemency: "In Islam it says that saving one human life is the same as saving the entire mankind," says Bhuiyan. "Since I forgave him, all those principles encouraged me to go even further, and stop his execution and save another human life."
Let's hope everyone remembers Rais Bhuiyan the next time someone tries to say that Islam is a religion of violence.
photo via Brandon Thibodeaux and MSNBC