Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). (Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund / Flickr)
Today, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is holding hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee singling out the Muslim American community for supposedly aiding and abetting terrorism. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Congress’s first elected Muslim, rebuked King’s unjustified focus on the Muslim community during his own remarks at the hearing. He reminded the hearing that a number of Muslims have worked to defend the United States from terrorism, and referenced the story of Muhammad Hamdani, a 23-year-old Muslim first responder who died on September 11th saving people trapped in the World Trade Center, and was later smeared due to his Islamic faith. The congressman broke down into tears by the end of his statement, moved by the story of Hamdami, who “was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans”:
ELLISON: Let me close with a story, but remember that it’s only one of many American stories that could be told. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old paramedic, a New York City police cadet and a Muslim American. He was one of those brave first responders who tragically lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago. As The New York Times eulogized, “He wanted to be seen as an all-American kid.” [...] Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try and help others on 9/11. After the tragedy some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers only because he was Muslim. It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were fully exposed. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens. I yield back.
Hamdami’s mother, Talat Hamdani, is at the hearings today. She works with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which opposes the hearings.