The young man was 20 and knew the Qur'an. Spared by the terrorists, he refused to leave his friends. For this reason, he paid “the highest price any human being can pay". The prize was awarded by the Harmony Foundation, which was established in 2005.
Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Harmony Foundation bestowed the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award upon Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, one of the brave victims of the Holey Artisan Bakery Cafe massacre in Dhaka on 1st July.
Five terrorists – all from well-to-do families – stormed the cafe frequented by foreigners and separated patrons into two groups: those who knew the Koran were spared, the others were kept as hostages (about 20 died, mostly Italians).
Faraaz, a young Muslim man, knew the verses of the Qur'an and so the attackers were willing to let him go. Instead of saving himself, he decided to stay with his friends and so was executed (pictured here with him) because he refused to leave them during the massacre.
"Faraaz courageously stood up to the terrorists,” Foundation president Abraham Mathai said. “He refused to let his Hindu friends bear the brunt of the terrorists’ ire [. . .] earning him the title of hero."
The 20-year-old Faraaz was "the obvious choice", Mathai added. The “world needs heroes like him for his act of selflessness and choosing to lay down his life for his friends. [. . .] We consider it our most humble privilege to bestow this honour".
The Harmony Foundation was established in October 2005 to promote the ideals of peace, dialogue and help to communities without distinction of religion, caste, creed, gender, or ethnicity.
This is the first time in twelve editions that the award is conferred posthumously. Some of the past recipients include Medecins Sans Frontières, the Dalai Lama, and Nobel Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Faraaz's parents will be in Mumbai to receive the award on his behalf on 20 November.
Accepting the Harmony Foundation's decision, his family said: "On behalf of our son, it is an absolute honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to accept the award. Though in deep grief, we cling onto the immense pride with which Faraaz has filled our hearts. He stood up for what was right by paying the highest cost any human can pay and we hope every day that his sacrifice does not go in vain."