A Connecticut man convicted of a hate crime is now working to combat stereotypes about Islam.
His story, which made headlines around the world, sprang out of an attack on a mosque in Meriden in 2015.
After a night of drinking, Ted Hakey, Jr., a former marine, fired several shots into the Ahmadiyya Baitul Aman Mosque. No one was injured in the attack. Hakey served six months in federal prison -- he was released earlier this year.
Shortly following the shooting, Hakey apologized to -- and was forgiven by -- members of the Meriden Muslim community.
“I knew that they were there to accept the apology, but I didn’t think it was going to be sincere,” he told WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil. “And they knew I was there to apologize, but they didn’t think I was going to be sincere. I think it was the sincerity of everybody is what was so emotional about the meeting.”
Zahir Mannan, is the mosque’s outreach director. Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, Mannan said, since then, Hakey became “more than a brother” to him.
“Because not only did he come and apologize to our mosque shortly after we met him the first time -- and that’s where that picture of us hugging went viral,” Mannan said, “but he also prayed with me. And he didn’t have to.”
Mannan said he visited Hakey several times in prison.
Hakey is now out. The two spoke candidly about their lives, religion, and forgiveness. Listen to the full conversation on Where We Live.