Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain will be smiling forever now, in a picture that has eternalized him in the act of showing proudly one of his diplomas, next to his mom, Simeen. He was rich, like the beasts who killed him in Holeys Artisan Bakeri of Dhaka, along with 19 other people. He was proud of being a Muslim, but chose a different side. The right one, the one that does not hide cowardly behind the name of God to give vent to its animal instincts and kill for the sake of it. Because no ideals, beliefs, or claims can possibly justify a massacre of innocent people. Faraaz knew it well. He was a tireless student from a good family, who moved on the other side of the planet to study. Yet, he was killed at home, where he came back for the summer holidays.
His grandfather was Latifur Rahman, chairman of Transcom Group, one of the largest multinational companies in Bangladesh active in several fields, such as pharmaceutics, food and wine, publishing, electronics, and radio broadcasting. Whereas his mother, Simeen Hossain, is the managing director of Eskayef Bangladesh Limited, a pharmaceutical giant. Long story short, Faraaz missed nothing. Every door or possibility was open. Yet, it did not stop him from dreaming, like any other young man his age. He did not rest on his laurels, undertaking a brilliant academic career in the United States. He had been a student at Emory University of Atlanta, from which he graduated at the beginning of the year. In the US, he has learned to live as a Westerner and not to be afraid of diversity. There, he met the friends for whom he gave his life: Tarishi Jain (Indian) and Abinta Kabir (half-American, half-Muslim), who died in the Dhaka massacre too. His next project, once back in Atlanta, was to attend a master course in economics, then lead the family business together with his younger brother, whom he adored.
Perhaps, that was exactly what he was discussing with his friends when the first grenades exploded. Perhaps they were engaged in a typical conversations among young people in their twenties, full of dreams and expectations from life and love. We will never find it out and it does not even matter. Because that afternoon full of blood, Faraaz learned the last lesson life had reserved for him: what it means to be a man. When the militiamen approached the three terrified young people, they asked them to recite verses from the Quran. Faraaz answered without hesitation, as he had probably done dozens of times during his university exams. His friends did not answer. They did not know these verses. Besides, they were wearing clothes “forbidden” by the Sharia. A combination that was tantamount to a death sentence. The militiamen have looked at the young man and invited him to leave the room: he was safe. The young man shook his head: he was not going to let Tarishi and Abinta die alone. His refusal proved to be stronger than violence. A slap in the face of the arrogance of those who think that holding an arm in their hand gives power. They had to face this young man’s refusal and come to terms with their miserable condition. Faraaz paid that affront with his own blood. The police found his body, along with those of the two young women, at dawn. There were signs of struggle on his hands. Even after his death sentence decreed by his “no”, he tried to defend them from the executioners.
“Virtue is the first nobility title; I do not care about a man’s name, I care about his actions”, Moliere wrote. An aphorism that sums up this whole story. Both perpetrators and victims were from wealthy families. Yet, they had done different choices. On the one hand, there is martyrdom for a foolish cause, whereas on the other hand, there is sacrifice in the name of friendship. Our pedigree is not what makes us human, it does not make us important. Our daily actions, values, and ability to discern what is right from what is wrong do so. These qualities transforms Faraaz into a hero worthy of being remembered, whereas his killers will get nothing but a walk-on part, which will soon fall into oblivion.