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CNN: ‘Merciful clerk changes robber’s mind, religion’

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 8, 2009 | 2:58 pm

Storekeeper Mohammad Sohail converting at gunpoint

That’s a headline that Mollie Hemingway found last week on, of all places, the homepage of CNN.com. Sounds captivating, right? Well, it sort of was for the would-be robber. But not because he really found religion. Simply because, it seems, he had the fear of God put in him.

Here is the incredibly thinly reported story:

Storekeeper Mohammad Sohail was closing up his Long Island convenience store just after midnight on May 21 when—as shown on the store’s surveillance video—a man came in wielding a baseball bat and demanding money.

“He said, ‘Hurry up and give me the money, give me the money!’ and I said, ‘Hold on’,” Sohail recalled in a phone interview with CNN on Tuesday, after the store video and his story was carried on local TV.

Sohail said he reached under the counter, grabbed his gun and told the robber to drop the bat and get down on his knees.

“He’s crying like a baby,” Sohail said. “He says, ‘Don’t call police, don’t shoot me, I have no money, I have no food in my house.’ “

Amidst the man’s apologies and pleas, Sohail said he felt a surge of compassion.

He made the man promise never to rob anyone again and when he agreed, Sohail gave him $40 and a loaf of bread.

“When he gets $40, he’s very impressed, he says, ‘I want to be a Muslim just like you,’ ” Sohail said, adding he had the would-be criminal recite an Islamic oath.

“I said ‘Congratulations. You are now a Muslim and your name is Nawaz Sharif Zardari.’”

Quite the conversion. I mean, it’s not like somebody had a gun to his head. Oh wait ...

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