Mosque Shooter Ted Hakey Jr. and mosque leader Zahir Mannan Borderless

Mosque Leader Befriends Mosque Shooter

It's an odd couple that only came together when the apps were closed and the conversation flowed.

Former Marine, Ted Hakey Jr., is close friends with local mosque leader, Zahir Mannan. Hakey says his friendship with Mannan is so tight he tells him secrets he won’t even discuss with some of his other closest friends.

But these two definitely weren’t always this close. In fact, before they’d met, and just a day after the Paris attacks, an intoxicated Hakey shot 30 bullets into the mosque Mannan belonged to in Meriden, CT.  Luckily, it was the middle of the night and no one was in the mosque.

Before his sentencing, he asked to meet the mosque leaders to apologize. Their willingness to meet him without negative judgment and their willingness to listen completely shifted Hakey’s perspective on this community he, up until then, knew almost nothing about.



Mannan visited Hakey every other week in prison and even gifted Hakey his grandfather’s Quran. Now released, Hakey enjoys reading about Islam and having discussions with Mannan about it.

Every week the mosque invites the public in for coffee, cake, and conversation. Hakey encourages his community to join in. “I feel that I owe them just to get it out there so that people don’t make the same mistake that I did,” Hakey told NBC Connecticut.

This story gets us all wondering: Can we avoid the negative starts and head straight to the friendships in the future?

Hakey said his negative view of Islam stemmed from social media. Each day he was exposed to anti-Muslim rhetoric and, regrettably, a lot of it stuck. One of many ways we can help shift this is to make sure social media is full of positive stories about people of all backgrounds. And if a local venue or religious space offers up their version of ‘coffee, cake, and conversation’ – go.

Step one – hit share. Cheers. 


Zahir Mannan and Ted Hakey embrace at the Baitul Aman “House of Peace” Mosque after Ted’s apology to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. (Peter Casolino/Special to the Courant)

Concerts for the Deaf

Translating the feel of music into American Sign Language.

You know that feeling when you’re at a concert and you don’t care how sweaty you are because the song they’re playing is so good you can feel it in your bones? Amber Galloway Gallego aims to bring that catharsis to the deaf and hard of hearing.

She interprets music for the deaf, but it’s not your standard ASL. She channels the performances through the emotional, lyrical, and rhythmic nuances of the song.

“Music does something to my soul,” she told the Washington Times. “I feel like if we’re not able to show that, then what are we doing up there interpreting?”


Photo: Washington Times / Photographer Unknown


This is really special because our hearing-centric world is kinda behind the times in welcoming the deaf into a lot of experiences, like music. It wasn’t until the 90s that music venues were even required to provide interpreters for the deaf, and even then they were mainly just verbatim lyrical translations.

Amber invites the deaf and hard of hearing into music’s emotional moments by tweaking ASL in a way that distinguishes – for instance – the resonance of thick bass sounds from sparkly guitar notes, or the cheeky, clever cadences of Eminem’s rap songs.

Watch the video to see the magic in action.


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