May 19, 2011
DALLAS, TX -- Rais Bhuiyan saw Mark Stroman and his gun in the reflection of the window.
Then came the question a robber wouldn't ask, Bhuiyan thought. "Where are you from?"
Within seconds, Bhuiyan, a store clerk, fell to the floor of the convenience store on Buckner Boulevard, bleeding profusely from a head wound from the gun blast. It blinded his right eye but miraculously didn't damage his brain.
Stroman, a white supremacist, would later confess he was out for revenge against those of Middle Eastern descent in Mesquite and Dallas days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Already, Stroman had killed one Pakistani immigrant; two weeks later, he'd kill an Indian immigrant.
Now, Bhuiyan wants to forgive.
He'll be asking for a stay of the July 20 evening scheduled execution of Stroman, and a stop to the "cycle of violence," as he calls it. . .
Bhuiyan said the event changed him and he now celebrates Sept. 21 as his new birthday because it was then he got his life back. Bhuiyan has a full-time job in information technology but wants to return to college. Last fall, he contacted Dr. Rick Halperin, the director of the human rights education program at Southern Methodist University.
It was a coincidence that Halperin already knew many details of Bhuiyan's story. Stroman had been corresponding with the professor, an anti-death-penalty activist, for two years.
Bhuiyan explained how the event had shaped his life, how he grew introspective about his faith and how he found answers to why he lived and others died.
The events, Halperin said, "raise questions about compassion and healing and the nature of justice."
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