Peace Activist Rais Bhuiyan to Speak as Wendt Center for Character Education Spring Lecturer

Mar 17, 2016 | S.Ortman

On Monday, March 21, the University of Dubuque’s Wendt Center for Character Education will host Rais Bhuiyan, victim of post-9/11 shooting spree and peace activist, who will deliver the lecture, “The Courage to Forgive,” as part of the Lester G. and Michael Lester Wendt Lecture Series. The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Heritage Center’s John and Alice Butler Hall on the University of Dubuque Campus. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for admission and may be obtained through Heritage Center’s Farber Box Office.

Rais Bhuiyan founded World Without Hate, a campaign dedicated to promoting cross-cultural empathy, after a life-altering incident that left him blind in one eye. A Bangladesh native, Bhuiyan was shot in the face by a white supremacist while working in a Dallas convenience store weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The shooter, Mark Stroman, claimed the shooting spree that killed two immigrants from South Asia and injured Bhuiyan was in retaliation for the terrorist attacks. Stroman was sentenced to death. While some might have responded with hate and anger, Bhuiyan chose compassion and mounted a campaign to have his assailant’s death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

Bhuiyan worked tirelessly to save Stroman’s life with pleas for clemency that in 2011 reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Though Stroman was executed in July 2011, Bhuiyan continues World Without Hate to promote healing, compassion, and forgiveness.

“Rais’ courage to forgive the person who tried – and nearly succeeded – to kill him, boggles our sensibilities,” said Annalee Ward, director of the Wendt Character Initiative.  “Moving beyond words to compassionate action, Rais embodies our year’s theme of ‘Courageous Compassion,’ and we look forward to learning from him.”

Bhuiyan’s experience is featured in “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas,” by Anand Giridharadas. Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow plans to direct a film based on Bhuiyan’s story.

Bhuiyan has received numerous accolades for his work with World Without Hate, including 2011 American of the Year from Esquire Magazine, a designation shared with others such as Apple founder Steve Jobs; and the Excellence for Human Service Award from United for Change, an American nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of Muslim issues.

Complimentary tickets may be obtained through the Farber Box Office Monday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., by phone at 563.585.SHOW, or online at