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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Blinded Muslim pleads to save his attacker's life

A Muslim who was shot and blinded by a white supremacist days after the 9/11 attacks is suing the governor of Texas to prevent his assailant from being executed.

Rais Bhuiyan says his rights as a victim were ignored when his attacker, Mark Stroman, was sentenced to death after a shooting spree at a Dallas convenience store that left two of his colleagues dead. Stroman, who claims he went on the rampage "against Arabs" in revenge for the death of his half-sister on September 11, 2001, is due to be executed on Wednesday after his final appeal was denied.

Mr Bhuiyan contends state prosecutors "pushed forward with the death penalty" without consulting him or the families of the other victims as required under the Texas Crime Victims' Bill of Rights.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday, Mr Bhuiyan's lawyers said their client was seeking reconciliation with Stroman "because his parents raised him with the religious principle that he is best who can forgive easily. As a Muslim, plaintiff is of the belief that when he forgives or promotes mercy for his attacker, the government should no longer have a duty or a right to exact the ultimate punishment upon Mr Stroman".

Mr Bhuiyan says that neither he nor the families of the other victims, Waqar Hasan and Vasudev Patel, were informed of their rights under the legislation that Governor Rick Perry championed as a guarantee of justice for the victims of crime.

"Along with families of the other victims in the case, I have been ignored and sidelined, year after year," Mr Bhuiyan said yesterday. "If Governor Perry really means it when he says victims' rights are a priority, we need action rather than hollow words."

Mr Perry, who is expected to announce his presidential bid within weeks, has signed off 232 executions -- more than any other governor in American history. His victims' rights legislation was seen by opponents of the death penalty as an attempt to justify such sentences as providing solace to families of the murdered.

But the Governor reckoned without the mercy of Mr Bhuiyan.

Stroman, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, said he wanted to kill "foreigners" because they threatened "the American way of life". He admitted shooting the three men of South Asian origin, two of whom were Muslims and one a Hindu.

"I am a human being and made a terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger . . . believe me, I am paying for it every single minute of the day," Stroman said on a website supporting his plea for clemency.

The Australian