Bhuiyan made a promise to himself that if he survived, he would spend his life to support peace and humanity. It has been a struggle. He lost sight in one eye, his home, job, fiancé, and sense of security. With no medical insurance, he paid $60,000 in medical bills. “I felt discarded and dehumanised,” he added.
But from this pain emerged his non-profit World Without Hate, with the hope that together we can build a world without fear, without violence, without victims. He not only forgave Mark Stroman, his attacker but also campaigned to overturn his death sentence.
The effort moved Stroman, who was executed in 2011, to call for hate to stop, saying that “hate causes a lifetime of pain”.
The power of forgiveness also came across strongly in remarks by Mejindarpal Kaur, who remembered Balbir Singh Sodhi, one of the first victims of the post-9/11 hate crimes.
For Sikhs, the world changed forever, with their articles of faith being equated with “terror” as they were mistaken for Muslims. The Sikh community has taken a stand with Muslims instead of disassociating themselves.
It is an ongoing struggle, said Kaur, and we can’t give up. Those perpetuating evil are not going to look for answers about how to stop the hate.
Khushi Kabir from Dhaka said 9/11 led to South Asian states using ‘anti-terror’ laws to curb democracy and free speech. Highlighting the rise in bigotry and othering of minorities.
People’s Union of Civil Liberties activist Kavita Srivastava in Jaipur noted that India is reeling from hate crimes and criminalisation of Muslims. Given India’s massive population, she said its actions reverberated in the region.
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