When Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old Pakistani-American researcher and certified Emergency Medical Technician on his way to work on September 11, 2001, saw the twin towers of the World Trade Centre burning and collapsing, he did not hesitate to rush in to offer assistance to those trapped within.
Tragically, like nearly 3,000 others that day, he perished in the terror attack.
Yet his tale was unique because one month later, even as his mother Talat Hamdani and the rest of his family mourned their loss, they had an unpleasant shock when they discovered that the New York Police Department had been circulating a flyer suggesting that their son was possibly involved with the al-Qaeda group that carried out the attack.
In a vitiated atmosphere a growing spate of hate crimes against the Muslim community and minorities, including Hindus and Sikhs, emerged in parallel to the Bush administration’s ‘War on Terror’.
Yet this week, thirteen long years after Mr. Hamdani was disgraced by the NYPD and false rumours spread about him, honour and redemption finally came to his family, after the City of New York named a street in the Bayside neighbourhood after him.
In a quiet but powerful ceremony NYC Council Member Paul Vallone, U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng, New York State Assembly Member Ed Braunstein and other dignitaries stood alongside Mrs. Hamdani during a commemorative event marking the co-naming of 204th Street in Bayside as ‘Salman Hamdani Way.’
Speaking to The Hindu on the occasion Mrs. Hamdani said, “The street dedication in Salman’s name instilled a euphoric feeling of victory; joy in achieving my son's sacrifice acknowledged. My soul is calm.”
On the broader concern about Islamophobic trends in parts of the U.S. she added, “It is a great day for all American Muslims because it's a recognition that Muslims are also an integral part of the American fabric. It confirms that America is the greatest nation and with persistence, you do get justice.”