Thursday, June 10, 2010

Furqan Dogan and me

Who is Furkan Dogan you may ask?

He was the lone US citizen of the nine activists killed by the Israelis during the Flotilla Massacre. I was horrified to read about his execution-style killing and the even more horrifying, but not surprising, silence by the US on one of its citizens being murdered abroad.

What does this 19-yr old martyr have to do with me?

Well, besides his obviously extraordinary act of courage and sacrifice, I didn’t give any extra thought to him over the others who died at the hands of the IDF.

But when I read that he was born in a small town located in upstate New York named Troy, I immediately sat up.

You see, Troy, NY is known for nothing - absolutely nothing. The weather is dreary, the social life is non-existent, and the locals are aloof. Those living in this ex-industrial town are infamously known as Troilets.

The only thing of real value located in Troy is my Alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Yes, that makes me the only human being in the world who has the ignominy of being both a Troilet as well as a Baltimoron (being from Baltimore). Yay for me!

Anyways, so when I read that he was born in Troy 19 years ago, the story became a bit more personal. I was there in Troy from 1990 to 1994, the exact time of his birth.

And since I know that the only Turkish residents of Troy are RPI postgrads, I immediately started racking my brain for any Turkish brother with the last name Dogan, in the off chance that I actually may have known Furkan’s father. Seeing that it was almost 20 years ago, many names and faces have begun to blur, so I wasn't having much luck there.

And then when I finally found a picture of the good brother whose son was killed in the Flotilla Massacre, my heart dropped.

His name is Ahmet Dogan and I knew him from the local masjid at RPI. While he was pursuing his PhD, I was an undergrad youngling. I remember him for two things, his extremely quiet demeanor and his sweet jump shot. Our paths regularly crossed in many places during my four years there – at the masjid, at social gatherings, at Juma’a, on campus.

And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that I actually held little Furkan in my arms, during one of the countless encounters with dear Ahmet.

And for the mere possibility of having met modern-day martyr Furkan Dogan, I am humbled and honored.

From Naeem's Blog. More here.

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