The picture of the smiling jihadists, who turned the world upside down for many in a Dhaka eatery on Friday, continues to haunt the world. Non-repentant, the six gunmen could have been the batchmates of the 20-year old Faraaz who died an undeserved death.
His death was both mourned and celebrated for a reason that the world lacks today-COMPASSION and FRIENDSHIP...something that epitomizes Islam and its indictments, something that the terrorists did not stand for.
As the six chose their targets cautiously, forcing people to recite the Quran or die, Faraaz stood guarding his two childhood friends- Indian Tarishi Jain and the Bangladeshi American Abinta Kabir. What is even more heart-warming is the fact that Faraaz was given the option to leave, but he decline to do so leaving his friends behind.
All three were killed. Probably, the terrorists could not handle Faraaz's courage. The terrorists who had stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery had released a group of women wearing hijabs and offered Faraaz the chance to leave too. His two friends in western clothes were asked where they came from, to which the women answered- India and the US. The terrorists refused to leave them and Faraaz refused to leave them behind.
It is still unclear how the terrorists chose their targets, whether on th ebasis of religion or nationality or some other unknown factor. Faraaz could have tricked them in all the criteria if he wanted to. He was not only knew how to speak Bangla fluently, but also was a practicing Muslim. But his friends were less fortunate. None of them knew the language too well and were from diversified backgrounds.
"What the terrorists didn't realise was that Faraaz wasn't just a Bangladeshi, he was someone who would stand by his friends from diverse backgrounds," said Arbaaz Alam, a childhood friend of Faraaz.
Tarishi, Faraaz and Abinta knew each other since their schooling days at the American International school. All of them then went to America for college- Faraaz and Abinta to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and Tarishi to the University of California, Berkeley. The three may have hailed from affluent backgrounds, but they knew the very basic human trait that differentiated them from the terrorists- the value of FRIENDSHIP.
Faraaz's grandfather Latifur Rahman is chairman of the Transcom Group, one of the leading business houses in Bangladesh that owns the newspapers Daily Star and Prothom Alo. The boy's mother Simeen Hossain is managing director of Eskayef Bangladesh Limited, a Transcom-owned pharmaceutical firm.
The two girls too hand deep connections with Dhaka. Abinta was born in Dhaka and had spent a few years growing up in the US, where her father worked at the time. She then returned to Dhaka for high school. Her family owns the Elegant Group that runs the Lavendar superstore in Gulshan, Dhaka's diplomatic enclave where the attack took place.
Tarishi's father Sanjiv runs a company that recycles used batteries in Dhaka. She had returned to the city for the summer to be with her parents and to intern with Bangladesh's Eastern Bank Limited.
On Friday the three friends, all on a vacation with family, had decided to meet at the Holey Artisan Bakery in the evening. Abinta had just broken her Ramzan fast during a family Iftar before she left for the restaurant.
Education does not buy humility
The rumors that all the six killers belonged to affluent and educated background have shattered the conventional belief that terrorists-whether home-grown or international-belong to poor backgrounds with no or madrasa education and have been instilled the pride of being Muslims in a wrong way.
In league of Osama bin Laden, who too belonged to a rich background, three of the six terrorists- Nibras Islam, Meer Saameh Mubasher and Rohan Imtiaz were convent educated and Islam had also studied in Australia's Monash University's Malaysian branch. Meer and Rohan were sons of politicians. Talking to their family and acquaintances, it was revealed that the trio had disappeared from their houses a few weeks ago and that they were already showing extremist religious traits.
Friendship and tolerance is a personal trait that comes from within, from the very deep precincts of conscience that is formed by understanding oneself. A path of belief or a religion is supposed to help one understand oneself better unravelling the better in you. Faraaz set an example for that, showing the world that Islam is not what the terrorists represent, it means a lot different.