Hate & Ignorance, Faith & Forgiveness post 9/11

Reading of the execution by lethal injection of Mark Stroman yesterday I was struck by the focused and tireless work of one of the victims who survived his revenge killing spree following 9/11. Rais Bhuiyan, who was shot in the face days after 9/11 has been campaigning for Stroman to have the death penalty repealed so that he could have a role as an ‘educator’ on a life without parole sentence. This Muslim man has not only forgiven Stroman’s act of hateful ignorance but has made his life’s focus to educate against hate crime. He says here :

“I strongly believe that there are important reasons why God spared my life. I feel driven to bring an awareness of hate crimes to others. Hate crimes of ALL types. To educate those who may be as ignorant as Mark Stroman, and raise a consciousness among people that hating others can never bring lasting peace and satisfaction.”

Rais clearly attributes his ability to forgive to his faith in Allah. He acknowledges the wisdom of his parents who brought him up to believe that a good man is one who is able to forgive easily and he is definitive that the cause of his own injury was hatred born out of ignorance: 
I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago. In fact, I have never hated him. I never hated America for what happened to me. I believe he was ignorant, and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did. I think about him waiting in a cell to be executed, and can feel the pain of how ignorance can be driven by such hate, and cause somebody like him to murder two completely innocent people.
What remains strangely absent on his website is reference to causes of 9/11.  Researchers have been examining why Muslim youth participate in radical cells. Recent research in Turkey has found significant links with radicalised Muslim youth and  urban poverty.
Survey respondents in 14 countries representing 62% of the world’s Muslim population indicate that approval of Islamist terror is not associated with religiosity, lack of education, poverty, or income dissatisfaction. Instead, it is associated with urban poverty. These results are consistent with the thesis that Islamist terrorists obtain support and recruits from the urban poor, who pursue their economic interests off the market in politics in collective groups.
The predisposing factors to violence and disregard for human life may be different in each context. It is important to understand what they are.

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