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, 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' story has been chronicled in The True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas by NY Times journalist Anand Giridharadas. During 2016, Rais worked with the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council & State Department, also 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 being featured on Vox, PRI, & the USA network. His segment was chosen by CBS Sunday Morning, national, 11/27/16.
Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.