Honouring a hero: In New York, a street now bears Salman’s name

Published: February 15, 2013

The name of Salman Hamdani is among those inscribed on bronze panel S-66 of the South Pool of the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan, as seen on December 6, 2011. PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA

KARACHI: 

Once suspected to be a terrorist, Karachi-born Pakistani-American Salman Hamdani is finally being recognised as a hero. The 26-year-old New York resident went missing on September 11, 2001, shortly after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre.

In the chaos of that day, his mother Talat Hamdani was initially not worried when she couldn’t get in touch with him and assumed that Salman, an NYPD cadet and paramedic, had gone to work as usual. But then the night came and went and he still didn’t get in touch. The next day she went to Salman’s office at the Rockefeller University in Manhattan, only to learn that he had not shown up for work on September 11.

Talat then joined the scores of people frantically searching for their loved ones in Manhattan. But Salman was nowhere to be found; neither the hospitals nor the morgue had any record of him.

In the atmosphere of suspicion that followed after the attacks, the Hamdanis were visited by NYPD detectives who confiscated a photo of him posing with an Afghan student. Soon after, the New York Post published a story on Salman titled: “Missing or Hiding? — Mystery of NYPD Cadet from Pakistan.” The story, which claimed that Salman was being sought by the FBI, also mentioned that he had been seen leaving for work “Koran in hand”, and implied that he was being considered a suspect in the 9/11 attack. In the wake of this story, even some missing posters put up by his brother Zeeshan were torn down. For six whole months, the Hamdanis did not know the fate of their oldest son.

But then in March 2002, two police officers came to their house to tell them that Salman’s remains had been identified. He had died at ground zero, and his EMT bag had been found along with his remains. Salman, far from being involved in the attacks, had headed straight for the Twin Towers after the first plane hit to try and help people, and that’s what he had been doing when the tower fell.

Over 200 days after his death, his funeral was held at New York’s Islamic cultural centre, with his coffin draped in the American flag. In April the same year, the Rockefeller University announced the establishment of the Shaheed Mohammed Salman Hamdani Memorial Fund, a scholarship meant to benefit Pakistani-American students. Salman’s name is also explicitly mentioned in the Patriot Act, though it does not appear in the first responders section of the 9/11 memorial. And now, the street on which he lived, 204th in Bayside, Queens will bear his name. The decision was made in a unanimous decision by the local community board. For Talat Hamdani, who has since become a prominent activist speaking against the stereotyping of Muslims in America, it is a long-awaited vindication. Still, she says that she wants her son’s name included in the first responder section of the 9/11 memorial. “Justice takes a long time,” she was quoted as saying by CBS, “but truth does prevail.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013. 

Reader Comments (30)

  • Maher
    Feb 15, 2013 - 10:33AM

    Great, Salute to Shaheed Salman and really proud moments for family and nation

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  • Super Star
    Feb 15, 2013 - 10:35AM

    Brave man! May his soul be in peace. It is sad that acts of fanatics leads to unnecessary suspicion of innocent people

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  • Paco Osuna
    Feb 15, 2013 - 10:37AM

    Real Muslim :)

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  • kashif
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:01AM

    This means Americans are not racist and their decisions are based on merit. This is actually the secret behind their success.

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  • RKM
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:04AM

    Love them or hate them, you can not ignore Americans.

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  • RQ
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:05AM

    This is real face of Islam which tell us to help every human regardless of their religion/race.
    God bless you son, we are proud of you!

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  • Ram
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:10AM

    One needs to feel proud about this brave Pakistani. However it is equally disturbing to read the article – Pakistan to continue to increase N-arsenal, support proxies http://news.in.msn.com/national/pakistan-to-continue-to-increase-n-arsenal-support-proxies-3#page=3
    Your reserves are hardly 5 to 6 billion dollars and your currency is down to Rs.100 per US dollar as per a recent article in this paper and I could read the concerns and worries of many Pakistanis. It is time that you impress upon your Government and mend their ways of dealing with India and outside world. Improve your economy and welfare of your citizens instead of waging war or supporting terrorists. All of us are not born to kill others. Though I don’t know much about Muslim religion, I have no reasons to believe it gives permission to kill innocent people wherever they are – Pakistan or India

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  • Jim
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:11AM

    Fantastic. What a heart-warming story. And how wonderfully different he is from all the terrorist cretins hiding in Pakistan teaching only hatred and violence.

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  • Feb 15, 2013 - 11:13AM

    Mubarak ho! Congratulations! Bravo! Viva! You do us proud, Salman. You are the new Pakistani hero albeit you are no more with us and are Inshallah in a far better place. We honor your memory and your surviving mother and brother. Rest in peace our brother. Salams

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  • The Khan
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:18AM

    Ultimate respect. RIP son!

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  • John B
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:19AM

    Why did it take so long for this story to told in PAK. Public television in the US ran a whole program about his deeds long time ago.

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  • Usama
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:20AM

    Atleast US knows how to differentiate between black and white. that’s why they have national heroes in every field because they appreciated those who work hard and end up doing some thing …. we are still struck with Quaid and Iqbal and every other person have been made controversial E.d Abdus Salam,Dr Abdul Qadeer and many others

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  • Rational
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:40AM

    I assume a through and complete investigation must be carried out before declaring someone as ‘suspect’ on part of highly effecient investigation agencies of the most developed country of the world, Rather just getting biased from his/her origin.

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  • RAW is WAR
    Feb 15, 2013 - 12:24PM

    No news on the street to be named after Bhagat Singh

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  • Parvez
    Feb 15, 2013 - 12:40PM

    Could something like this happen here in Pakistan today………..the answer is shamefully NO.

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  • Bruce
    Feb 15, 2013 - 1:04PM

    @RAW is WAR:
    Your comment is irrelevant to this article.

    How about you do yourself a favor and get a new hobby, cause your trolling days are over.

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  • Raza Khan
    Feb 15, 2013 - 1:07PM

    Salman Hamdani, you are my hero! Hope we have many more heros like you in US so as the negative perception about Muslims & Pakistanis is washed out. I honor Salmaan’s parents by raising their kid who believed in humanity, love and caring for people who were in need.

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  • salman
    Feb 15, 2013 - 2:17PM

    Bravo Salman , may you RIP

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  • G. Din
    Feb 15, 2013 - 4:53PM

    @Super Star:
    “It is sad that acts of fanatics leads to unnecessary suspicion of innocent people”
    It would not be so if “innocent” people rose to denounce fanatics amongst them.

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  • GhostRider
    Feb 15, 2013 - 5:00PM

    Indians poking there nose in something not related…get a new hobby guys…watch rajnikant flicks

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  • Nauman
    Feb 15, 2013 - 5:11PM

    Indians are consistently disrespectful on these pages……..why? Why does it pain you to read such positive stories about Pakistanis?

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  • NP
    Feb 15, 2013 - 5:36PM

    Compare this to Lahore where Bhagat Singh couldn’t be honoured because he was not a Muslim.

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  • Max
    Feb 15, 2013 - 5:51PM

    posting irrelevant tripe on a positive article. Get a life losers.Recommend

  • Maulvi Nawaz Shareef
    Feb 15, 2013 - 6:03PM

    @RAW is WAR: We’ll do it when you’ll name a street in Mumbai as Ajmal Kisab Street :)

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  • Ozymandias
    Feb 15, 2013 - 7:04PM
  • Stranger
    Feb 15, 2013 - 7:50PM

    @Paco Osuna:
    thats all ? Is he just a real muslim ? Why not a real human being ? or why not a real hero ?

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  • Raj - USA
    Feb 15, 2013 - 10:08PM

    @kashif:
    You have very clear thinking and I admire you for being objective and not bringing in religion in your comments.

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  • BRUISED INDIAN
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:13AM

    Salman Hamdani: If you’re reading this from the cushy locales of Heaven.. let it be known that my hat was tipped in your honor! You do humanity proud.

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  • God bless
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:05PM

    I hope god blesses your family that is inspiring. Hopefully the american public can view people as human not muslim Christian jewish etc. We are all human why dp we hurt one another hope humanity changes god willing.

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  • Schabboo Khan
    Mar 9, 2013 - 4:21PM

    @Maulvi Nawaz Shareef:
    What an idiotic comment. As a Pakistani I am ashamed of you.

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