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Emory University honors student who died for friends in 2016 terror attack 

During this year’s BBA commencement on May 12, Emory University paid tribute to a student killed in the 2016 Bangladesh terror attack, renaming the school’s core values award in his honor.

» RELATED: 2 Emory students killed in Bangladesh terrorist attack

Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain was killed in the militant attack at the Holey Artisan restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 1, 2016. The tragedy left 29 dead, including Hossain’s childhood friend and fellow Emory student Abinta Kabir, as well as University of California-Berkeley student Tarushi Jain. 

Hossain, Kabir and Jain had gathered at the cafe for a cup of coffee when, around 8:45 p.m. local time, a group of militants stormed in and seized the site. The militants targeted non-Muslims and foreigners.

While Hossain, a rising junior who transitioned from Emory’s tight-knit Oxford College campus to Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, was held hostage, gunmen gave the Bangladeshi Muslim the chance to escape. 

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But Hossain refused to leave his friends behind and was found dead the following morning.

» RELATED: Emory students remembered in interfaith vigil

On Saturday, May 12, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School honored Hossain. This would have been his graduating class.

Emory also renamed the undergraduate core values award in his name.

“This award has been renamed to honor Faraaz Hossain, who would have been a member of your class but died tragically and heroically, defending his friends in a terrorist attack in Bangladesh,” the university announced during the ceremonies. “The Core Values award is therefore particularly poignant to us and is presented to a senior who embodies our most noble principles.”

The first Faraaz Hossain Core Values Award was granted to graduate Gurbani Singh, “an inspiring leader and a community builder who possesses a generosity of spirit and the moral compass that is inherent in the designation of this award.”

Gurbani Singh, recipient of the first Faraaz Hossain Core Values Award. (Kay Hinton)

Singh, who served as president of the school’s student government association in her final year and helped found Emory’s undergraduate disability studies initiative navigated political and financial obstacles to use her power “as a force for good.” 

After the Bangladesh attack, Hossain was awarded the 2016 Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice, instituted in 2005 by the Harmony Foundation of India. Past honorees have included the Dalai Lama and Malala Yousafzai.

PepsiCo Global also introduced the Faraaz Hossain Courage Award with a $200,000 endowment. The accolade would be presented annually to citizens of Bangladesh under age 30 who exemplify personal courage and ethical values. Honorees would win a $10,000 cash prize.

“He was admired by all for his humility, kindness, and leadership,” Hossain’s former graduate advisor Judy Sunshine wrote in 2016. “What a privilege it was to know this young man.”

» RELATED: Emory students killed in terror attack remembered for their kindness

Before college, high school friends told CNN that Hossain was one of the most humble and caring people around, and he was even voted prom king and class president at his school.

 

Emory’s recognition of Hossain comes nearly two years after his and Kabir’s deaths shook the Atlanta campus from more than 8,000 miles away.

Hours after the attack, Emory University President Jim Wagner learned news of Kabir first and posted a message early Saturday to the school’s website:

“Abinta Kabir, an Emory University undergraduate student at the Oxford College campus, was among those taken hostage and murdered by terrorists yesterday in the attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Abinta, who is from Miami, Florida, was in Dhaka visiting family and friends. 

“The Emory community mourns this tragic and senseless loss of one of our university family. Our thoughts and prayers go out on behalf of Abinta and her family and friends for strength and peace at this unspeakably sad time. In the wake of this terrible loss, the university is offering support to members of our community through counseling services.”

 

The university followed up with a second post after learning of Hossain’s death:

“Coming on the heels of my earlier message, we have learned now that a second Emory student was murdered in the Bangladesh terrorist attack. Like Abinta Kabir, Faraaz Hossain had been taken hostage and was subsequently killed. Faraaz had completed his second year at Oxford and was headed to the Business School in the fall.”

“Everyone would just say they were the sweetest, nicest people. Both of them were known for it,” Sultana Begum, outgoing president of Bengal Association for Students at Emory, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the attacks.

» RELATED: Emory students who died in attack were close friends

Kabir, a rising sophomore who hailed from Miami, Florida, had dreams of starting an NGO for children in Bangladesh after graduation, her mother, Ruba Ahmed, told The Hindu. Ahmed, who launched the Abinta Kabir Foundation in 2017, also published a book on her daughter’s life titled, “An Intimate Portrait of Abinta Kabir.”

“The terrorist asked Tarushi about her citizenship,” Kabir’s cousin, Hazira Afiya told The AJC in 2016. “She admitted she was an Indian citizen and they killed her on spot.” When Abinta was questioned, she “got shaken up and admitted she was American and they hit the back of her head with a blunt instrument.”

The so-called Islamic State claimed credit for the horrific attacks, though Bangladeshi officials said that all attackers were local and not affiliated with IS. Officials said the victims were brutally hacked or stabbed to death.

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