Ismaeel Hummeid was born in a country now governed by a ruler who wouldn’t think twice about killing him.
On Thursday evening, the 20-year-old college student from Syria was standing in the halls of power, introducing himself to Gov. Mitch Daniels, a man who’s served two presidents in the White House.
The setting was the Governor’s Iftar Dinner at the Indiana Statehouse, an annual event conducted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was started by Daniels and the Muslim Alliance of Indiana eight years ago, after Daniels first took office.
Hummeid is a Muslim and Daniels is a Christian, but they share a connection. Daniels’ paternal grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Syria, a nation now wracked by civil war.
In the nearly 18-month-long uprising against a brutal dictator, more than 18,000 Syrians — many the age of Hummeid — have died and nearly 170,000 have fled the country.
Also attending the Governor’s Iftar dinner was 16-year-old Wiem Eloued, an exchange student from Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring. It was the popular uprising of Tunisians against their oppressive leader in December 2010 that triggered a wave of revolts in other Arab nations.
I’ve seen people who looked delighted on meeting Daniels, who can be so personable, especially with young people.
Both Hummeid and Eloued looked almost overcome with emotion, especially when Daniels told them how proud and pleased he was to meet them.
“I’m always glad when people with talent come to Indiana,” Daniels said.
Hummeid left the encounter saying Daniels inspired him.
“He makes me want to do something good with my life,” Hummeid said.
Daniels has taken some heat for the iftar dinners, from people who believe Muslims have no business praying in the Statehouse.
But Daniels has pushed back, reminding those critics that most of the Muslims who come to the Iftar dinners are Hoosiers, many of them architects, engineers, doctors and teachers who’ve lived in Indiana for years and raised their children here.
Daniels rarely wears his faith on his sleeve, but Thursday’s dinner offered a glimpse into what he believes. In his welcoming remarks, he talked about the things that connect people of faith, including this: “We are all free because of the God who made us.”
Daniels has prayed with offenders in Indiana’s prisons; he hung the portrait of a Roman Catholic nun canonized as saint in his Statehouse office; he returned to the Sikh temple in Indianapolis — where he’s been before — after six people were shot and killed at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this month.
After the final Governor’s Iftar Dinner last week, Daniels said he was pleased the event had become such a tradition — a piece of the legacy he’ll leave behind when he officially departs office early next year.
“Since it’s the beginning, I’ve been conscious of the imperative to serve everyone,” Daniels said, “people of all faiths and people with no faith at all.”
He said he did so because he wanted Indiana to be seen as a place “that is open to all and accepting of all faiths.”
“It’s a fundamental American principle,” Daniels continued. “It’s the fundamental American principal. It’s how we got here.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ismaeel Hummeid was born in a country now governed by a ruler who wouldn’t think twice about killing him.
- State News
Study finds Indiana residents paying more in taxes
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A national study says Indiana residents have been paying a growing percentage of their income on state and local taxes.
Judge: Indiana must recognize gay couple’s marriage
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the state must recognize a gay couple’s out-of-state marriage before one of the women, who has cancer, dies.
State school board members say teacher ratings unfair
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Some Indiana State Board of Education officials say teacher evaluation results that show only 2 percent of educators need improvement are unfair to students and parents.
Bennett campaigning ethics hearing further delayed
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A hearing on charges that former Indiana state schools superintendent Tony Bennett used state resources in his failed 2012 re-election bid has been pushed back until August.
Groups hope to revive outer beltway
FRANKLIN, Ind. (AP) — A group of central Indiana manufacturers and warehousing companies is pushing to revive a proposal for a highway that would link the region’s major interstates and communities.
Indiana seed commissioner seeks federal hemp OK
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s seed commissioner has asked the federal government for permission to allow Hoosier farmers to begin growing industrial hemp under new state regulations.
Company fined $50K in Indiana State Fair collapse
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The owner of parts of a stage that collapsed during a powerful storm at the Indiana State Fair in 2011, an accident that killed seven people, will pay a $50,000 fine for safety violations, the state said today.
Indiana court to hear former regulator’s case
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys from the Indiana attorney general’s office will try to persuade the state appeals court to reinstate criminal misconduct charges against the state’s former top utility regulator.
Ethics panel could meet soon on Indiana lawmaker
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House Ethics Committee could meet soon to determine whether a top Republican lawmaker erred in lobbying for his family’s nursing home business.
Indiana withdrawing from Common Core standards
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana today became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core math and reading standards that outline what students should be learning, capitalizing on a conservative backlash but leaving some critics wondering whether the state is leaving the program in name only.
Court gives Duke Energy go-ahead for rate increase
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has given Duke Energy the green light to raise electricity rates to pay for its $3.5 billion Edwardsport coal-gasification power plant.
Indiana unemployment rate drops to 6.4 percent
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.4 percent, continuing its big decline over the past year.
2 new suits target Indiana’s gay marriage ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two new federal lawsuits are taking aim at Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, boosting to four the number of legal challenges to the law filed in a week.
Pence signs military relief fund changes into law
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure allowing more of Indiana’s veterans and their families access to a fund that helps them pay for food, housing and other expenses.
New lawsuit challenges Indiana gay marriage ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages faces a new challenge in a lawsuit filed by a national gay rights group.
Nature trust expands Owen-Putnam State Forest
POLAND, Ind. (AP) — State officials say funding from the Bicentennial Nature Trust has helped the Indiana Department of Natural Resources expand a central Indiana state forest by 84 acres.
Indiana court says child welfare agency went too far
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court says the state’s child welfare agency went too far when it took custody of a woman’s five children when she had trouble making ends meet during one child’s medical crisis.
Indiana schools get options for making up snow days
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana schools won’t get a free pass for the mounting number of days lost to weather cancellations this winter.
Consumers asked to weigh in on proposed water rate hike
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state agency is inviting consumers to voice their opinions on a rate increase requested by the Indiana American Water Company.
37 flu-related deaths in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials say at least seven more people have died in Indiana from flu-related illnesses as this year’s strains are hitting some young and middle-aged adults harder than usual.
Schools could be allowed option on makeup days
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The state school superintendent says school districts could make up some snow days by having longer school days or having online instruction on a Saturday.
State AG offers help to Hoosiers facing critical propane shortage
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced today, Feb. 5, that his office will assist consumers who face critically low propane levels and experience supplier issues - especially as temperatures continue to drop.
Indiana plans $75M push to demolish abandoned homes
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana officials plan to use a $75 million federal grant to demolish thousands of blighted houses in the state.
Pence asks Hoosiers to check for extra propane
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is asking farmers and others to return any unused propane to their suppliers as the state struggles through an ongoing shortage.
Indiana sees number of flu deaths jump to 11
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials say the number of Indiana influenza deaths this season has jumped to 11, up from three reported a week ago.
- Inventor hopes Bike Zeppelin takes off GREENSBURG - A local civil engineer has created a Zeppelin-shaped apparatus that allows bicyclists to ride in the rain without getting wet. Greensburg resident Jim Gorman remembers the day that inspiration struck: Nov. 22, 2011. It rained all day, an
Text of Gov. Pence’s 2nd State of the State speech
INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 14) — Speaker Bosma, President Pro Tem Long, Lt. Governor Ellspermann, Senator Lanane, Representative Pelath, distinguished members of the General Assembly and Judiciary, honored guests, my fellow Hoosiers.
Thank you for that warm welcome. After last week, warm is my favorite word! I want to thank all of you in this room and your families for your service to the people of Indiana in this historic place.
Pence looks to sell lawmakers on 2014 agenda
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is heading into his second State of the State address with a broad agenda and friendly Republican majorities in the audience of lawmakers he’ll be addressing.
Indiana senator retiring after cancer diagnosis
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A longtime Republican state senator will not seek re-election after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
State health officials announce 3 influenza deaths
INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials today reported the first influenza deaths of the 2013-14 flu season. Influenza is now widespread across Indiana, said State Health Commissioner William VanNess.
- More State News Headlines
- Study finds Indiana residents paying more in taxes