Meriden Muslim leader joins mosque shooter in forgiveness - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Meriden Muslim leader joins mosque shooter in forgiveness

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Zahir Mannan and Ted Hackey were speaking out on Monday following the executive orders. (WFSB) Zahir Mannan and Ted Hackey were speaking out on Monday following the executive orders. (WFSB)
MERIDEN, CT (WFSB) -

Muslim leaders in Connecticut are speaking out over the temporary travel ban.

They said they are praying for peace, and opening their doors to help people better understand the Muslim community.

“We're hoping to win hearts through education and through dialogue and even prayer if people are open to it,” said Zahir Mannan, of Baitful Aman Mosque in Meriden.

"Knock on any mosques door, you're welcome. They're not going to say you can’t come in, you’re not a Muslim. That's not how it works,” said Ted Hackey Jr., who was recently released from prison after he fired gunshots at the Baitful Aman Mosque.

After he apologized, he said the mosque welcomed him back.

Hackey was the one responsible for firing at the Baitul Aman Mosque on Main Street not long after terrorist attacks rocked Paris. 

"I spent so much time here with Zahir before I went in, so it doesn't feel strange at all, it doesn't feel uncomfortable, it just feels like home," Hackey said.

He was sentenced to six months in prison for that act of violence. Now he's spreading a different message than the one that sent him to prison.

"Just speak to people and give them examples on everything that happened and how I was forgiven by Muslims all over the country, once the apology came out, originally it was awful, and then when I apologized, the attitude just changed," Hackey said.

"Six out of ten Americans don't know a Muslim, all it takes is meeting one to dispel myths and to bridge the divide that is going on in society," Mannan said.

Their painful chapter was revisited on Sunday, when a shooting at a mosque in Quebec left six people dead.

"Of course we pray for both the victims and the perpetrator, we want God the change their hearts and we want to the change their own hearts and that comes through education, getting to know one another, you don't become an expert through social media, it's better to interact," Mannan said.

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