Epitome of bravery
Two years have passed and yet, this day still brings the terrifyingly fresh memories of the brutal killings of the 12-hour long bloody siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan.
On the night of July 1, 2016, five young militants took hostages and opened fire inside Holey Artisan Bakery. The assailants entered the bakery with crude bombs, machetes, pistols, and took several dozen hostages, including both foreigners and locals.
The gruesome incident left 22 people dead -- nine Italians, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, a Bangladeshi American and an Indian. The five militants were killed during the joint forces operation the next morning.
Among the victims killed by the militants was Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, who became a beacon of hope for the country after his untimely death in the attack.
As the nation watched humanity stoop to the lowest of levels that night, he stood out as an inspiration for generations that would continue to reaffirm the faith in mankind.
Twenty-year-old Faraaz was the epitome of bravery as he stood up to the attackers for his friends at the cost of his own life, portraying the true spirit of courage, friendship and humanity.
A student of Economics at Emory University in Atlanta, US, Faraaz came to Dhaka on May 18, 2016, for his summer holidays.
He went to the upscale Gulshan café, with two friends -- Abinta Kabir, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin and of the same university, and Tarishi Jain, an Indian and a student of the University of California, Berkeley -- on the fateful night when the militants launched the attack at the café frequented by foreigners.
During the attack, the terrorists specifically targeted foreigners dining at the restaurant. The gunmen were looking for “infidels,” testing who could recite verses from the Holy Quran and who couldn't.
Faraaz recited verses from the Holy Quran.
However, he was given the choice of walking free from the café. But he refused to abandon his friends and chose to stay. Eventually, all three of them were killed.
And he died a hero.
Faraaz was the grandson of Latifur Rahman, chairman of Transcom Group, and Shahnaz Rahman. He was the son of Simeen Hossain and Muhammad Waquer bin Hossain. Before going to the US, he studied at Sir John Wilson School and American International School in Dhaka.
With his name etched in the annals of bravery, his sacrifice and valour are being recognised all over the world. Faraaz was honoured with a place in the Garden of the Righteous at the Italian embassy in the Tunisian capital Tunis.
The Milan-based non-profit organisation called Garden of the Righteous Worldwide (GARIWO), with help from the Italian foreign ministry, took the initiative to set up the first Garden of the Righteous in an Arab country on July 15, 2016. The garden hosts trees and memorial stones dedicated to five righteous Arab and non-Arab Muslims. One of those five Muslims is Faraaz.
The tree dedicated to Faraaz bears the inscription: "In Dhaka, he chose not to leave his friends and was murdered by the terrorists."
In March this year, students of Rummo High School in Benevento of Italy planted a tree honouring Faraaz.
After the bloody siege in Gulshan café, Faraaz became synonymous with friendship. His sacrifice is being recognised across the world.
He was awarded Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice in November 2016. Faraaz's mother Simeen and elder brother Zaraif Ayaat Hossain received the award in Mumbai.
Some of the past recipients are Médecins Sans Frontières, the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai, Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Baroness Caroline Cox.
In recognition of his courageous act, PepsiCo Global launched the annual Faraaz Hossain Courage Award in 2016, setting up a fund of $200,000. The money would allow a $10,000 prize to be awarded every year for the next 20 years.
The purpose of the award is to recognise individuals for their acts of exceptional courage and empathy, the very spirit Faraaz showed.
This month, he was recognised as a graduate by Goizueta Business School of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Apart from this, the university also introduced the Faraaz Hossain Core Value Award, the first of which went to Gurbani Singh, a student of the university.
By sacrificing his life, Faraaz showed how the power of love and humanity can make people indomitable.
Those we lost to madness
9 Italians, 7 Japanese, 1 Indian and 5 Bangladeshis who lost their lives in July 1 attack
The 7 Japanese victims : Ogasawara, Tanaka Hiroshi, Shakai Yuku, Kurusaki Nubuhiri, Okamura Makato, Shimudhuira Rui and Hashimato Hideiko.