Terry Williams: CAIR-Philadelphia’s Letter in Support of “Petition for Executive Clemency”

Dear Governor Corbett and Members of the Board:

I write to you in my capacity as Civil Rights Director and Staff Attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Philadelphia Office. In this capacity, I write to you in support of the “Petition for Executive Clemency” submitted by Terry Williams.

In seeking clemency for Terry Williams, I am acting in accordance with the Islamic principles which underlie all of CAIR’s advocacy efforts. As CAIR’s leadership has previously stated, “CAIR believes that Muslims worldwide must offer themselves as personal examples of the Islamic values of compassion, tolerance and moderation.” I also follow the precedent established by my fellow Muslims, both internal and external to CAIR, and other persons of faith.

As I seek to save the life of Terry Williams, I am inspired by a man named Rais Bhuiyan. Shortly after 9/11, Mr. Bhuiyan was shot in the face at point blank range and miraculously survived. When his attacker was sentenced to death for related murders, he launched a campaign to save his attacker’s life — a campaign which Mr. Bhuiyan stated was driven by his Islamic faith, his beliefs as Muslim, and the dictates of the Koran. As reported by the Huffington Post, he explained that “[t]he Koran teaches that those who forsake retribution and forgive those who have wronged them become closer to God.” As powerful as this statement was, it was followed by a statement which should touch the soul of any God-fearing person of faith: “My faith teaches me that saving a life is like saving the entire human race.” Because he spoke so eloquently about the sanctity of human life, and the religious imperative for mercy, from an Islamic perspective, CAIR has utilized Mr. Bhuiyan as our surrogate on these issues. He has been honored for his compassion by CAIR-National and, in his home state, by CAIR-Texas.

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