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Rais  Bhuiyan

Rais Bhuiyan

9/11 Hate Crime Victim, Founder of World Without Hate, Human Rights Advocate & Peace Activist

Rais Bhuiyan

9/11 Hate Crime Victim, Founder of World Without Hate, Human Rights Advocate & Peace Activist


Rais Bhuiyan, an American Muslim from Bangladesh, is an extraordinary individual with a powerful story. After serving as an air force pilot in Bangladesh, Rais moved to the United States in 1999 to study computer technology. Ten days after 9/11, Rais was the victim of a horrific hate crime. Shot in the face at point blank range by white supremacist, Mark Stroman, self-described “the Arab slayer,” Rais barely survived. Sadly, two other victims were killed. Stroman was sentenced to death; ten years later, Rais led an international campaign, fighting to save Stroman’s life.

Rais’ near death experience and subsequent religious pilgrimage sparked a profound journey of soul searching and began his path as a human rights activist for peace, forgiveness, empathy and understanding. Rais’ effort to save Stroman from execution in 2011 was unsuccessful, but his transformative ability to turn hate into compassion and forgive the unforgivable has been transformative. Through his non-profit, World Without Hate, and as a popular inspirational speaker, Rais has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as he shares his story and message at schools, universities, organizations and conferences all over the world.

Rais’ efforts have been widely recognized, receiving the Excellence for Human Service Award, United for Change; Search for Common Ground Award, Search for Common Ground; 2011 American of the Year, Esquire Magazine; 2014 Human Relations Award, Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation, among others. Rais is a full-time IT executive at Sabre Corporation in Dallas, but works relentlessly to end the cycle of hate and violence. To create a better world, Rais believes in peace, love and forgiveness. We must all work together toward tolerance and understanding and knock down the walls of difference and hatred that too often separate us. He shares his powerful story and inspiring message with all audiences, tying in the themes of mercy, empathy, acceptance, faith, peace activism, immigration, victims rights, Islamaphobia, gun violence and much more. 

Rais Bhuiyan's extraordinary story has been chronicled in The True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas, which is being developed for the big screen by Annapurna Pictures. The book was a 2014 New York Times Book Review Notable Book and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. He is also prominently featured in the 2016 documentary, An Eye for An Eye. In 2016, Rais worked with the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council and State Department, recently receiving a personal letter from President Obama thanking him for his courage and efforts. Rais is featured in the new documentary series, The Secret Life of Muslims currently being featured on Vox, PRI, and the USA network. His segment was chosen by CBS Sunday Morning for national broadcast on November 27, 2016.

Speaker Videos

The Magic of Humanity: Forgiveness, Mercy & Compassion

World Without Hate

Virtual Keynote: World Without Hate

On Forgiveness and Supporting His Attacker's Children

University of Pittsburg Commencement Speech

The Courage to Forgive

Speech Topics

Combating Hate: Empathy Through Storytelling

No one is born to hate. Hate, as with empathy, must be learned and fostered. As with most learned behaviors, hate can be unlearned as well. We have the capability to turn negatives into positives, weakness into strength, fear into courage, ignorance into wisdom and hatred into love. We have the power to uphold the intentionality of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – that “All Human Beings are Born Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights,” or our Constitution – that all of us are created equal. Picture what our communities and our country might be like if we adhered to our founding principles of life, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness; that all people deserve to be treated humanely and justly. Black parents wouldn’t have to worry about losing their child in a senseless police shooting. Police officers could perform their duties without fearing for their lives. Places of worship would no longer need security. Catholic nuns wearing their habits and Muslim women wearing hijabs would be respected, instead of feared. Bhuiyan shares how by combating hate, he would no longer have to stay vigilant because of his Muslim identity and the rise of Islamophobia in our country, fearing for his safety, and life every time he leaves home.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Bhuiyan deeply felt that by executing Mark (his shooter), we would simply lose a human life without dealing with the ROOT Cause. Instead of hating him, he saw Mark as a human being like himself, not just a killer. Bhuiyan saw him as a victim too. His faith, upbringing, and the powerful stories of mercy and forgiveness learned in childhood gave him the courage not only to forgive Mark, but also fight to save the life of the man who tried to end is own.

It moved Bhuiyan profoundly to think that the man who tried to kill him because of the ways in which he was different, learned to see the ways in which they were the same, enough to call him brother. Although retaliation is a natural response, it does not make you feel as good as you think it will. Any harm you inflict or hope to see inflicted against another human being winds up hurting you too. Once you get to know the other, it’s hard for you to hate them.

The Path Toward Peace & Justice

People can change and grow given the chance. Difficulties can turn into blessings, obstacles into opportunities. No matter how challenged our life is today, there is hope for a better tomorrow, especially when we allow ourselves vulnerability and learning to become more comfortable in our own discomfort. This internal work is not only possible, it is vital. Lives depend on it.

It is high time to acknowledge the injustices done to our fellow citizens-- Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, and all who suffer. We must reform the power structures built on racism and intolerance, extinguishing the blatant ignorance and fear that keeps feeding these archaic systems. I am asking all of us to acknowledge the wrongs done and to educate ourselves about the true history of our country and of others around the world. Visit a plantation to witness first-hand the cruel treatment of Africans as slaves; how three generations were forced to live inhumanly, in one small shack. Speak with our Native community members or visit a reservation to see just how poorly they have been living on the land they owned. If you can’t visit, watch documentary films on their plight, it will make you humble and appreciative of who you are and what you have today. Read a variety of books and articles, explore various sites and media channels. Do your due diligence to truly discover truth because we are far overdue in facing the unjust and cruel part of our history. And it is our duty, our collective responsibility to take action and to forgive one another in order to truly break the cycle of hate and violence. We can indeed realize a world without violence, a world without victims, and a world without hate, but only if we work together.