The 2016 Mother Theresa International Award for Social Justice was given to a young Muslim who gave his life in a horrific Islamist terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh when he refused to leave his “infidel” friends whom the terrorists had separated out from the Muslims.
Twenty-year-old Faraaz Hossain, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was visiting family in Bangladesh and enjoying an evening at the Holey Artisan Bakery with two female friends – Abinta Kabir, a Bangadesh-born U.S. citizen, and Tarishi Jain, an Indian student at the University of California at Berkeley.
When Islamist gunmen stormed the café, they separated the “infidels” from the Muslims through giving a test from the Quran to the café’s patrons. Hossain passed the test and was told he could leave, but he refused, choosing instead to stay with the two friends he had brought to the café.
Hossain was killed along with the two women. Wounds on his body suggest that he had struggled with his murderers.
His mother, Simeen received the award in her son’s place.
“I wanted to raise my son as a good human being, and this was the darkest moment of my life,” Simmen said. “Yet, it was the proudest moment of my life. Faraaz was a practicing Muslim, and looking evil in the eyes he said, ‘No I will not leave my sisters behind’.
“Faraaz did not leave his friends whom he loved like sisters, and he was their host, and he did not act like a coward. His love for his sisters transcended all religious and national boundaries. For you, Faraaz, I am the proudest mother in this world,” she added.
Hossain became a hero in Bangladesh for those who oppose Islamic extremism. Posters around the country proclaim, “Faraaz is Bangladesh!”
The attack took place on the night of July 1, 2016, when six terrorists stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery, located in an affluent area of Bangladesh’s capital city where many of the city’s embassies are located. The assailants – in their late teens and early 20s — were armed with bombs, machetes and pistols.
They were later identified as coming from wealthy families of Bangladesh's elite and attended top private schools and universities in Bangladesh and abroad.
Twenty-nine people were killed in the attack, including 20 hostages (18 foreigners and two locals), two police officers, five of the six gunmen and two bakery staff. After police officers unsuccessfully tried to breach the bakery, special forces were called in and launched a raid 7:40 am the next day.
Although Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the country’s home minister said the terrorists belonged to Jamaat ul-Mujahideen, a Bangladeshi Islamist terror organization.
The attack was the worst terrorist incident in Bangladesh's history.