Buddhist Monk Forgives Attacker Who Mistook Him for a Muslim
A Buddhist monk based in Trout Lake, Washington State, has spoken of his sympathy and forgiveness for the perpetrator of an Islamophobic attack mistakenly inflicted on him.
Kozen Sampson, co-founder of Trout Lake Abbey (a retreat center and organic farm just north of Hood River) and a registered nurse, is a well-known figure in his neighborhood and community. He was attacked on 29 February. He told Katu News that the attacker “hit me in the side of the face and knocked my head into the frame of the car. I do remember [him yelling] an F bomb [about] Muslims, and that was it.”
According to RT, the attack left him with a bleeding gash on his head, which he did not inform the police about until several days had passed. “I hadn’t planned to say anything, but a friend said if it happened it needs to be on the record, which I agree with,” he said.
In a Facebook post, Hood River Police Department gave a statement: “The Hood River Police Department is investigating the assault of a Trout Lake, WA man, which took place on February 29th. Kozen Sampson reported he had gotten out of his vehicle in the area of 12th and Eugene to do obedience training with his dogs. Sampson stated he was suddenly approached by a man who yelled and kicked his car door into him, hitting him in the head. The man then referred to Sampson as a Muslim and walked away. Sampson is a Buddhist Monk and was dressed in a brown robe at the time. Sampson sustained injuries to his face from the attack. He described the suspect as a white male with brown hair. There are no suspects at this time.”
Police in Hood River told RT that fights involving racial slurs in the town are relatively common, although unprovoked ones rarely happen in broad daylight. “The extent that Mr. Sampson was attacked is a little more rare than what we usually see,” said Hood River Police sergeant Don Cheli to KGW.
Because of his spiritual training, Sampson felt sympathy rather than vengeance toward his misguided attacker. “Can you imagine living your life in fear and anger? Can you imagine wanting to do something that you had to hurt somebody?” he asked, according to Katu News.
He also expressed sympathy for Muslims, asserting that they should not be the target of hate speech or hate crimes: “I don’t know the Islamic faith well, but I do know that Muslims are our brothers and sisters and I would encourage everyone to just take a hard look at how supportive are you of all God’s children.” He also alluded to the toxic atmosphere of the US presidential primaries, particularly in relation to politicians stirring up fear and suspicion of Muslims. “There are some politicians who have people riled up as they seek to build their power base. They are not seeing everyone as a part of the human family. We need to find a kinder way to approach our differences and look at the rest of life,” said Sampson.
Inspired by his forbearance and united by revulsion at the ignorant targeting of Muslims and other people for violence, a local candlelight vigil to promote peace and tolerance is to be held in Hood River on the evening of 11 March. Organizers have asked supporters to gather at 202 State Street from 6.00 p.m.
According to KGW, Sampson has received messages of support from other countries like Japan and Vietnam as well as calls from local religious figures. He told KGW that he would like this incident to be taken as a lesson to relinquish prejudice. “So all I really have for him (the suspect) is you’re completely forgiven. I hope you find peace and I hope you find a way to deal with this internal stuff so we don’t have to hurt anyone,” he said.
Trout Lake Abbey
Buddhist monk attacked for being ‘Muslim’ has totally Zen response to Islamophobes (RT)
Buddhist monk, apparently mistaken as Muslim, attacked in Hood River (Katu News)
Buddhist monk attacked in possible hate crime in Hood River (KGW)