Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, broke down in tears today while giving testimony during a hearing on radical Islam on Capitol Hill. Ellison became emotional while relaying the story of a young New York City Muslim man, who was also a first responder, who died on 9/11. The point of Ellison’s story was that there are Muslims who are not radical and are patriotic — a point with which many will not disagree:
The Atlantic provides a transcript of the relevant section of Ellison’s prepared remarks:
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. He wore No. 79 on the high school football team in Bayside, Queens, where he lived, and he was called Sal by his friends… He became a research assistant at Rockefeller University and drove an ambulance part-time. One Christmas, he sang in Handel’s Messiah in Queens. He saw all the Star Wars movies, and it was well known that his new Honda was the one with “Yung Jedi” license plates.
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.
Mohammed Salman Hamdani is us. He is every American. He is our neighbor. If we make him the problem, we all lose. If we engage him in the solution, America and the world will be a more vibrant, safer place for us and our children.