From Dallas to Myanmar: The Intersections of Mercy, Justice & Human Rights

When Rais first heard about the Rohingya crisis, he was a flight cadet in the Bangladesh Air Force and couldn’t do anything except pray for these poor and vulnerable people. When the crisis resurfaced in 2017, he had already experienced the brutal pain of hate and violence firsthand being a victim of a violent post 9/11 hate crime. He had also gained a voice, and the strength to stand up against hate, injustice and human suffering. His heart broke seeing the plight of the Rohingya people and wanted to do whatever he could to help them, and to bring awareness to this catastrophic issue. About a year ago, Rais visited the camp to do relief work, as well as speak with many of the refugees who asked him to share their stories and their voices. As part of his promise to them, the documentary came to be.

<h2>Thursday, Apr 6, 2017</h2>
The Williams School
182 Mohegan Ave, New London, Connecticut 06320
Apr 6, 2017 at 7 PM – Apr 7, 2017 at 9 PM EDT

Through the work of our non-profit, World Without Hate, we focus our efforts on breaking the cycle of hate and violence through storytelling and empathy education. The documentary short Rais created is our way of telling the Rohingya refugee story in hopes of bringing more awareness to and empathy for the millions who are barely surviving in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp. We may not be able to solve this humanitarian catastrophe ourselves, but together, we can send a collective message that we support the suffering, that we have not forgotten them or their plight, and we can utilize our voices and urge our leaders to act.

In this 15-minute short, Rais not only reflected the plight of the Rohingya and the millions who are barely surviving in the largest refugee camp in the world, but also proposed 5 points solution to end this senseless human suffering. 

We also hope that bearing witness to the plight of the Rohingya reminds us of how much we have to be grateful for and in this, making the best use of our resources to help eradicate hate and violence from our communities, our nation, and our world. Together, we must stand up against human suffering.

Reflections on My 18th Rebirthday

Today, on International Peace Day, I am also commemorating my Rebirthday. Eighteen years ago, I faced extreme evil, and my life in America changed forever. I vowed not to define myself by that act of horror, but to respond by making a difference and helping others. 

Though not in Manhattan or Washington D.C., I am a victim, and a survivor of the terror that reigned down upon our country on Sep 11, 2001. My attacker, who shot me in the face and killed two others, blamed me and my kind for 9/11, and said America was no place for Muslims,… until he learned about the international campaign I was leading to try and save his life from Texas death row. He hated me when he didn’t know me, but in the end called me, brother; and said he loved me before he was executed. His last words were “Hate has to stop. Hate causes a life time of pain.” Today, I see the reflection of his pain everywhere. 

It is time for us all to admit where we are heading as a country, and as the human race. Hate crimes, gun violence, anti-immigrant rhetoric…extremism of all kinds are on the rise. Though we vowed, “never again” long ago, it appears we haven’t learned anything from history. The war on terror has caused and produced more terror, providing excuses for far too many to label people we don’t know as a threat, making it easy to persecute, suppress, and treat fellow humans as lesser than. We spend billions searching for life in space, but lives on earth continue being destroyed by unnecessary, unjust wars, violence, hunger, and disease. When millions of people dream of having access to clean water, or a roof over their head, desperate to live life with dignity, we spend even more in the arms trade and on new technology to control and kill.

All mothers hope to see their children flourish in a safe, loving and kind world. What can we do to save humanity and restore the world? Building peace is the answer. Peace begins within each of us, in our hearts & minds, at home first. We need to teach our children, and remind one another, to respect everyone equally, as human first, regardless of our differences. You may not like me or become my friend, but you can respect me as you want to be respected. No one is born to hate or to be violent. People are either taught to hate or go through challenges in their lives desensitizing them to others’ right to life, liberty, freedom, and happiness. That’s why we must teach our children kindness, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness before they are exposed to racism, intolerance, hate and violence. 

The lessons I’ve learned from my traumatic experience, and the painful journey I’ve taken, moved me from a place of pain on the deepest level, to a place of peace and hope for a kinder, just, and more accepting world. There is not a single day that goes by that I am not reminded of and impacted by my brutal attack, but I continue to make peace with my pain.  

Today, as a human rights advocate, peace activist, non-profit leader, and motivational speaker, I have the opportunity to try and combat the hate and violence that has plagued our country, our world for far too long. I founded the organization, World Without Hate, with the hope we might all build bridges among one another, as opposed to walls; that through our powerful human attributes of forgiveness, empathy, and acceptance, we can begin to see how much more we have in common than that which seems to divide us.

On this international day of Peace, and my 18th rebirthday, I urge you to join me, pledging to proactively denounce ignorance, intolerance, and hate, treating all people equally, as humans first, regardless of our visible or invisible diversity. Let’s change the world by changing stereotypes and divisive rhetoric, channeling our actions through empathy, understanding, and acceptance. Let’s create the world we all deserve, a world without violence, a world without victims and a world without hate for all. 

~ Rais Bhuiyan, Founder & President, World Without Hate

Secret Life of Muslims in Seattle: Screening & Panel Event

Rais Bhuiyan was shot point-blank in a near-fatal hate crime ten days after 9/11. Not only did he forgive his attacker, he also fought to save his attacker’s life.
Richard McKinney planned to detonate an explosive at a Mosque. After he was given a Quran, everything changed.

In a special film screening and discussion, hear from these two men who have traveled on unbelievable journeys from hate to love, joined by Joshua Seftel, the filmmaker who told their stories for the Emmy-nominated series of films, “The Secret Life of Muslims.” This event, moderated by Seattle’s own Aneelah Afzali, Executive Director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN) at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), is a testament to the power of redemption, showing just how much is possible when we choose to overcome hate.

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What is The Secret Life of Muslims?: If you watch CBS Sunday Morning, listen to NPR, use Facebook, read USA Today or attend SXSW, you’ve likely already encountered THE SECRET LIFE OF MUSLIMS, a series of short-form, first-person documentary films that uses humor and empathy to subvert stereotypes and employs a cutting-edge distribution strategy, making it available on TV, radio, the internet, and at live events from NYC to LA.

Featuring a diverse set of American Muslims from a wide range of ethnic and national origins speaking directly to their own respective experiences, the series illuminates the existing complexity and diversity of America’s 3.3 million Muslims, while pointing to a common shared humanity. The first season has been viewed more than 56 million times in our effort to contribute to a dialogue of tolerance and peace in contentious times.

This very special event is a testament to the extraordinary partnership of the Women’s University Club Foundation, City of Seattle’s Human Rights Commission, Rotary District 5030 Peace Builders, Seattle 4 Rotary Peace builders, PopUp Justice, Social Justice Film Festival, Muslim Empowerment Network at the Association of Puget Sound, Meaningful Movies, Seftel Productions, Smartypants Films, World Without Hate.

Bearing Witness: Rohingya Fleeing Genocide, a documentary

Join World Without Hate’s Founder & President, Rais Bhuiyan and Hadi Jawad, Peace & Human Rights Activist, for an intimate film screening of the documentary, Bearing Witness: Rohingya Fleeing Genocide. Following the film short, Hadi will moderate a conversation with Rais about his relief work in the camps and the promise he made to the refugees to share their stories of suffering, survival, and pleas for help.

This event is free and open to the public.

World Without Hate’s Empathy Ambassadors Leadership Training

World Without Hate is excited to announce its Seattle debut of our Empathy Ambassadors Leadership Training Program. We are grateful to our co-hosts, the Interfaith Community Sanctuary & Peace Camp International for welcoming us this summer!

Young adults, educators, religious leaders, counselors, and all who are interested in deepening, broadening & strengthening their interpersonal and intra-personal skills are welcome and encouraged to participate.

Join us in this multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural, humanitarian workshop to discover/rediscover and expand the ways in which we interact with the world within and around us.

The Secret Life of Muslims

Join us for a special screening of The Secret Life of Muslims; the award-winning, digital series that uses humor and empathy to subvert stereotypes. Experience an engaging and interactive evening as we explore social justice filmmaking, the importance of storytelling, advocacy and activism, and global citizenship.

Program co-hosted with World Without Hate, including moderator Aneelah Afzali and special guests; Joshua Seftel, Executive Producer & Creator of The Secret Lives of Muslims, Rais Bhuiyan, Founder & President of World Without Hate and featuring these community partners:

Eat With Muslims
Hedgebrook
Just Lead
Muslim Community Resource Center
American Muslim Empowerment Network
(A program of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound)
Pop Up Justice
World Without Hate

Annual Interfaith Iftar

Assalamu Alaykum / Peace be upon you

The Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) invites you to meet your Muslim neighbors during Ramadan, learn about faith and forgiveness in our religious tradition, listen to our guest speaker Rais Bhuiyan share his extraordinary experience of forgiveness after being shot, break a fast together and have dinner with us! (Note: this event sells out, so get your tickets early).

Please arrive between 6:15pm and 7:00pm for check-in and to meet and greet; the program begins at 7:00pm and ends at 9:30pm. Dinner will be served at 9pm. Babysitting arrangements are not available, but tickets are required for children.

We look forward to welcoming you to MAPS, regardless of your religion, faith tradition, race, national origin, gender, sexuality, age, different abilities, or political viewpoints.

If you have guests who have never been to MAPS or are important MAPS partners, and would like MAPS to sponsor them, please reach out to us at maps-ioc@mapsredmond.org. For other questions or feedback: outreach@mapsredmond.org.

You can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/maps-12th-annual-iftar-2018-faith-and-forgiveness-registration-45634483970. We look forward to seeing you there!

Join us for a Connecticut Conversation

Connecticut Friends! We hope you will be able to join us on Thursday, April 6th at 7pm for a conversation with Rais at New London’s The Williams School.

A World Without Hate: Compassion, Forgiveness, & Healing in a Post-9/11 World; a part of The Williams School Speaker Series.

“Join Mr. Rais Bhuiyan, a 9/11 hate crime victim, as we explore what it means to be compassionate in society today. What does forgiveness actually look like, and how can we begin to heal as individuals, communities, and a nation?”

White Supremacy in America: Lessons From My Attacker

This past week marked the 8th anniversary of my attacker’s execution. Ironically perhaps, this past week we witnessed the Commander in Chief’s vitriolic racist attacks of fellow elected officials garnering security concerns for the lives he has put at risk. I often tell others that I work to make peace with my pain every day, but unimaginable days like we continue to see from the President of the United States makes it exceedingly difficult, to say the least.

Speaking with students at Glastonbury High School. Photo: Hartford Courant, Glastonbury, CT, 2012
Photo Credit: MARK MIRKO | mmirko@courant.com

Before pulling the trigger, my attacker asked, “Where are you from?” My brown skin not welcomed in his “white” America. Though narrowly escaping with my life, I still carry more than three dozen bullet fragments in my face and skull and am blind in one eye, these just the physical reminders of America’s racism and intolerance towards me and “my kind” immediately following 9/11.

Devastatingly, it seems I’m not welcomed in Trump’s America either. And while he puts elected officials’ lives in danger, he also puts mine, and so many others like me, in jeopardy too. In addition to my sight, my attacker took from me my sense of safety and security. Nearly nineteen years since my shooting and still, the only place I truly feel safe in America is past the security checkpoint at the airport. Trump’s hate speech and white supremacist ideology is dangerous. Dangerous for millions of minorities who proudly call themselves Americans. Dangerous for the security of our country. Dangerous for the future of our country. Dangerous for our ideals and all that our country was built upon. Dangerous, alas, for me.

The stark difference between my attacker, Mark Stroman, and President Trump is that Mark transformed. Unfortunately, it was on death row that he felt free, loved, and respected as a human being. My assailant realized how wrong he was, especially when he had others around him to support his learning and growth. Before his execution, Mark said he loved me, thanked me for campaigning to try and save his life, and called me “brother.” I will always be sorry that for Mark it took killing two people, nearly taking my life, and ending up on death row before he was able to know forgiveness, compassion, and empathy and to give it in return.

This tragedy took a great deal from me, but it also paved the way for my life’s purpose and the organization I created, World Without Hate, as a result. Before his life ended, Mark Stroman’s last words were, “Hate is going on everywhere and it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain.” I’ve dedicated my life to disrupting hate. Today, I implore President Trump to stop the hate, and the danger he is inciting, and instead unite us all as human beings first. Before it’s too late.

~ Rais Bhuiyan, International speaker & Founder of World Without Hate.