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 held 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 at the Governor’s Iftar dinner: 16-year-old Wiem Eloued, a smart young woman and 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 earlier 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 leaves office early next years.
“Since it’s the beginning, I’ve been conscious of the imperative to serve everyone,” Daniels said, “people of all faiths and 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 principle. It’s how we got here.”
- Local & Bistate
Purdue shooting leaves one person dead
A Purdue University engineering student opened fire inside a basement classroom Tuesday, killing a teaching assistant and prompting officials to put the campus on lockdown, police and the university said.
Vigo County Jail Log: March 17, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, based on jail records.
THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs
Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.
Bosma moves gay marriage ban bill to friendlier committee
Republican House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma sent a bill that proposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a more conservative-leaning legislature committee Tuesday, because it lacked support on the first committee to which it was assigned.
We enter the deep freeze again
If you had to step outside to get your newspaper this morning, you might have noticed it’s painfully cold once again.
Levy redirects school funds
If the new “protected levy” legislation goes into effect later this year, it would mean “a substantial reduction” in revenue for Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds, according to the district’s chief financial officer.
School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana
School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.
More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.
VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board
Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.
Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase
After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.
Rising deaths at Indiana day cares raise alarm
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers’ efforts to increase regulation of some home day cares might not do anything to stem a rising tide of deaths in child care facilities, critics say.
Action Track great Gary Bettenhausen dies
Gary Bettenhausen, a legend of the Terre Haute Action Track, has died at age 72.
Update: Colts owner Irsay arrested for DWI
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts owner Jim Irsay was jailed today on suspicion of intoxicated driving after police said he failed sobriety tests during a traffic stop and they found multiple prescription drugs inside his vehicle.
Dream of a lifetime
It was “a dream of a lifetime” for one Terre Haute woman.
Homeless, renters, leasers
All kinds of housing issues come to the attention of the Terre Haute Human Relations Committee, including discrimination.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Something to crow about, as our neighbors return
It is in the spring, I think, that I notice crows the most. They are noisy neighbors year-round, but they come calling (I resisted saying “cawing”) in early March in earnest, and they do so before the frogs on our pond and the buds on our trees make the new season official.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Curbing the ‘tough on crime’ mentality
Republican Sen. Brent Steele is the rock-ribbed, law-and-order chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he’s no ordinary conservative.
The night it rained tears
March fuels college basketball teams. Fun, glory, buzzer-beater shots and storybook endings in the NCAA Tournament await there.
POVERTY IN AMERICA: Success depends on birth location
Deb Kesler grew up poor in a single-parent family, but she knew that education was the ticket to a better life.
She and three siblings put themselves through college with grants, loans and work.
50 years after Civil Rights Act, work still to be done
This July will mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Indian tradition welcomes colors of spring
One little corner of Deming Park got some spring colors Saturday morning when community members gathered to “play Holi,” an important tradition in India.
Students raise more than $1,100 for children’s hospital, watch school staff get heads shaved
Off with the hair!
Middle school students cheered and laughed with excitement during a school assembly Friday at Honey Creek Middle School as they watched three school administrators “go bald” to support a good cause.
Small World Learning Center hopes to save Woods preschool
A Terre Haute preschool facility on Friday night has publicly announced its offer of a merger with The Woods Day Care/Pre-School.
Hot projects on display at home show
Two-year-old Reed Clutter looked like he felt right at home as he played on a swing inside Hulman Center in downtown Terre Haute during the 2014 Home Show kick off on Friday.
VIDEO: Seuss is Loose
Ouabache Elementary School Music teacher Alison West, playing the part of Dr. Seuss' Thing 1, tosses confetti during the "Seuss is Loose" parade celebrating the end of ISTEP+ testing.
Utility seeks land for new power lines
Duke Energy is planning to install a new high-voltage power transmission line that would travel between 10 to 13 miles north to south along the Wabash River, in anticipation of the 2015 closure of its Wabash River Generation Station.
Lugar Center to offer CPR training sessions today
Staff members from Union Hospital are partnering with Clark County (Ill.) residents to offer free CPR training to interested community members.
Free cab rides offered for St. Pat’s Day
Terre Haute law firm Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, which has made a tradition of encouraging free cab rides home to those who have consumed too much to drive, has its eyes now on St. Patrick’s Day.
More couples challenge same-sex marriage ban
Three federal lawsuits were filed Friday against Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, boosting the number of legal challenges to the ban’s constitutionality to at least five.
INDOT to discuss U.S. 40 upgrades in Brazil
Indiana Department of Transportation and Gradex Inc. personnel will discuss a pending upgrade of U.S. 40 through Brazil at an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the council room at Brazil City Hall, 203 E. National Ave.
Chamber still taking nominations
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for the 2013 Business Recognition Awards.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Purdue shooting leaves one person dead