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Forgive

How hate and debate came to a Connecticut mosque

The night of Nov. 14, 2015, was not the first time Ted Hakey, 50, went into his backyard in Meriden, Connecticut, and fired guns to let off some steam. It was the night after a deadly terror attack in Paris, and Hakey was furious.

So he shot his Springfield Armory M1A .308-caliber rifle into the air. Some of those shots hit the Baitul Aman Mosque next door. Luckily, no one was in the building at the time.

“I wanted to scare ’em, but the shots that hit were never supposed to hit,” says Hakey, who admits he harbored significant hate for Muslims back then. His Facebook posts reflect that well enough.

Prosecutors used some of those posts to build their case against him. The shooting got him six months in jail on federal hate crime charges, but leaders of the mosque argued he should be forgiven and not even serve jail time. Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, the mosque president, expressed this feeling to the judge at Hakey’s sentencing.

For 29-year-old Zahir Mannan, the criminal case was an opportunity to show Hakey and anyone else paying attention — which by then included the national media — what Islam is really about.
     — Arthur Nazaryan
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