September 11th, 2012
12:33 PM ET

Mom wants Muslim son’s name moved to be among first responders at 9/11 memorial

By Susan Candiotti, CNN

You won’t find Mohammed Hamdani among the names of the first responders that are etched in a wall at the 9/11 memorial in New York.

But on the day of the 9/11 attacks, the 23-year-old certified EMT and onetime NYPD police cadet skipped his job at a university research lab to rush to the World Trade Center. Not long after, his family posted Hamdani’s picture on a wall of the missing.

Six months later, his remains were found - in 34 parts.

"They gave us his jeans and his belt, which my husband identified were his clothes,” says Hamdani’s mom, Talat.

"He was a prime example of what it is to be a human being,” she says, recalling his decision to go to the World Trade Center 11 years ago. “He went in there to save humanity."

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When the 9/11 memorial opened last year, Talat wanted to see her son’s name grouped among the first responders who lost their lives trying to help others.

Instead, the Pakistani-American’s name is positioned in a separate section of the memorial, among those considered loosely connected to the World Trade Center.

His mother is convinced her son’s Muslim religion has set him apart: "They are discriminating because of his faith and that is not right."

“He did not stop to wonder are they Christian or Muslims or are they Jews or their ethnicity or their color,” Talat says of her son’s actions on 9/11. “It's just humanity.”

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The memorial denies discrimination, saying Hamdani was no longer an active cadet when he was killed and that he had not received a presidential medal for valor, which the memorial says were the memorial’s criteria for “first responder.”

“So many of the names on the 9/11 Memorial represent individuals — both in and out of uniform, known and unknown — who displayed extraordinary bravery on that horrible day, and that includes Mohammed Salman Hamdani," a spokesman for the memorial said in a statement.

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"While this case did not meet the criteria for the ‘First Responders’ section of the Memorial, that in no way diminishes the courage and bravery Mr. Hamdani and hundreds of others showed on 9/11,” said the spokesman, Michael Frazier.

At the same time, the NYPD calls Hamdani a hero, having honored him in 2002 with a police funeral that included full honors from New York’s mayor and police commissioner.

"The fact that it was acknowledged in a very, highly honorable fashion was gratifying,” Talat says, remembering that day. “I was very satisfied at that moment."

On the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD gave Hamdani’s family a badge.

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Talat says she’ll keep fighting to move the name of her son, who grew up in New York and dreamed of becoming a doctor. She has contacted public officials from her congressman to the White House seeking help with her fight, but to no avail.

"I want to see it in my lifetime,” she says. “It's a very - it's so intense pain that is indescribable."

“He's not here to speak for himself,” Talat says. “I have to speak for him. And I will till the day I die. "

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Muslim • New York

soundoff (415 Responses)
  1. eyelessjackfangirl

    This is sickening... they don't have his name with the others because of his race... That shows others and children that read this that american's aer racist and are very judgemental!!! America sometimes sickens me!!!

    June 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
  2. A. GG

    'nuf said: " Hamdani was no longer an active cadet when he was killed " – just another civilian EMT acting on his own..

    September 12, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  3. PBR

    This story is misleading. It says that his name is listed on the memorial "positioned in a separate section of the memorial, among those considered loosely connected to the World Trade Center." However, if you look on Wikipedia, in the article about him, they have a photo of his name engraved on the actual memorial, and it is listed between Vincent Gailliard, who was a security guard at the WTC and David Ruddle, who was a carpenter working there. In other words, he's listed just like any other victim. The story makes it sound like he is on some separate list from all the other victims. I'm not saying he shouldn't be on a special list as a hero, but it's not like he's listed on some special list as a non-victim or something.

    September 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  4. FrameSinger

    A lot of people are going " Well, you know, they put his name on the plaque, all's good, why does his mom want to go further with it and treat him as a First Responder when he clearly was off-duty". The controversy here isn't about whether he was off-duty or not, or whether he was Muslim or not, the controversy was that his name wasn't only omitted from the memorial, but it was included in the list of people involved/connected to 9/11 despite what he did to save people. His name wasn't included on the plaque because, the truth is, 9/11 is still fresh in America's memory. The date of 9/11 evokes strong feelings, and a lot of anger will be directed towards muslims. There is no avoiding the subjects of religion, ethnicity, or race, especially in a robust multicultural community like that of New York City. Many people with vivid memories of 9/11 and especially those who lost loved ones in the attacks really wouldn't appreciate his name on the memorial plaque. There are still people who, sadly, spit when they say Mohammed, or Ahmed, or Omar, or any other Arabo-Muslim name. I guess it would be a great offense to them to have the name Mohammed among the names of their loved ones. What they don't understand is, in doing that, they are either erasing him from the history of 9/11, or they are putting his name among the names of terrorists. I wish Americans could adopt the same tolerance that the Jews exhibited to the Germans post-WWII and post-USSR, and apply it universally, to every race, ethnicity, and religion, no exceptions.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • pallab

      people may feel offended by his name, but that doesn't justify it. Some muslims killed those thousands but many more died saving them, people should know this. Rather than sympathizing with people's biased views we shall try to expose them to the truth. Then only people will understand and Humanity can survive.

      September 11, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Kerri

      Do you realize the 9/11 attacks came from the US military. Seven hijackers accused of this horrific crime are living well in their own country, news of this finding was held back from US citizens. Also the crash photos that we all saw just shows an explosion no plane and think about it, the damn hole would be a hell of a lot bigger if the so call Boeing 757 crashed into the pentagon. Major fire but you were still able to get fingerprints. The military had 1/2 a dozen or more training exercises that day, that time. Further more the body of Bin Laden thrown into the sea. Please another cover-up. The World Trade Center this was definitely a controlled bombing falling straight to the ground. You would think with the planes crashing into the towers there would be a major explosion, covering more than just the ground. Maybe we should stop believing what we are told to believe and come up with your own conclusion. What are these men and women supposed to say to God when it is their time to retire or die. It Was My Job. We are never going to know the truth but stop blaming people we are told to blame and start thinking for yourselves. We are being controlled and it needs to stop.

      September 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • ksrippstein

      What'cha talkin' 'bout, there FrameSinger? He is not listed with the terrorists; he is listed with workers who died at the towers on 9/11. His name is right next to the name of one of the firefighters...

      May 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • ksrippstein

        Correction – I meant to say next to a security guard.

        May 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  5. geminijeanna

    He was Not a first responder with an organized group – he is appropriately honored.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • anna

      He still should be added, he gave his life to help those in peril at the WTC...and who are you to make this decision?

      September 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
      • geminijeanna

        He is honored in another location and I am an American expressing my opinion.

        September 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
        • Savoir Faire

          No, he is not being honored as one who responded valiantly to the tragedy, but with the victims he went there to try and save. Did he not put himself in harm's way by responding to an emergency and was he not among the wave of first responders?

          Others who were off duty and who responded on their own volition are on that list, so should he be so honored – And I am an American first responder (SAR) expressing my opinion.

          September 12, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  6. Sharon

    Does American and all those others living in this country have to argue over everything? If we find one of the most horrific days of our country something to fight over, there's no future at all for this country. Whether it's right or wrong, it's not something thousands of families want to hear on this day of sorrow, and I would think that she wouldn't either.

    September 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  7. John Smadi

    Why is it not fair? If you earned the Presidential medal of valor or you didn't. Seems like a straightforward category: if you were in an official capacity at the time more not.

    Surely there are many other first responders with various cultural and religious backgrounds in the same situation as her son.He has no official affiliation at the time: that is the criteria

    Likewise there are probably lots in the official first responder set who have last names of different cultural and religious groups.

    September 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  8. gf

    Why does she have to throw race and religion into it? They have honored him multiple times and his name is on the memorial elsewhere ... just he didn't meet their requirement to be considered a "first responder". It seems she should pursue that one thing first. Quit making this a race & religion issue.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  9. Wen

    Put his name up among the heroes. He too died there, trying to help, rescue and save people! It's only fair! why is he being singled out?! My condolences to his family and friends. It was a terrible day that still haunts many of us in the present.

    October 5, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Vicki

      How is he bring singled out? His name is on the memorial, it wasn't left out. He didn't meet their requirement to be considered a first responder and be place under that area on the memorial.

      September 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Savoir Faire

        You are responding to a year old post, but I will tell you. He is listed with the victims of 9/11 when he went there specifically to save people, as many other off-duty first responders did and whose names are on that section of the memorial reserved for responders. The rightful place for his name is there, too.

        September 12, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  10. rswfire

    What this man did for his fellow Americans is honorable, but I do not believe he was discriminated against. Unless they can prove he was a first responder, they can't simply add him to that wall. And it's clear they had a system in place for deciding who would be placed on that wall. The fact that he can be found on the walls of the memorial show that he was not forgotten, and never will be. While unfortunate for the family who would like to see his sacrifice "honored more" there is really nothing that can or should be done...he has been honored, even immortalized on those walls.

    September 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  11. Talat Hamdani

    I read the don't agre with some of them, majority resonated and sat well with me. I would like to thank all of you for expressing yourselves and secondly I would like to clarify a few facts so you may comprehend where I am comin g from.

    Salman was an NYPD cadet when 911 happened. He was also NY State certified EMT. Yes. he responded voluntarily to the call of duty. He had not put in hours at the NYPD for few weeks because of his new job. GThe NYPD had tried to insinuate that he was linked with the attacks and the proof is the flyer. When his renmains were found in October, they continued to investigate and interrogate us. They notified us on March 20, 2002 that his remains were indeed found at the North Tower. They gave him the funeral and the shield because they had to do a face saving. All I am asking is that Salman be given his due place in history. His name should be listed as an NYPD Cadet and the street where he lived, 204 Street, Bayside, be named after him as were the other streets named after the NYPD officers. I am not asking for any other benefits.
    I am very proud of Salman. He made America proud also. He made Humanity proud. He has achieved immortality through his sacrifice. I am his voice and he is my strength. I will continue to speak for him and one day posterity will make sure Salman is awarded his his due place in history.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • jeffision

      Talet, most Americans would be proud of him also. Please ignore those here who are blinded by ideology and ignorance.

      September 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Khan

      Ms. Hamdani, I know you would have explored every option in your quest but would like to know if you had tried to find out if there were any Firefighters or EMTs, cadets or Firefighters who were off duty that day but volunteered and responded to the 9/11 disaster and were awarded later by the city of New York or have their name on the FR list. That would give you the argument of precedence to strengthen your case. We share in your loss and may Allah bless Mohammed Hamdani and your family. Thanks.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:44 am |
      • Another Muslim


        September 11, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Bani Israil

      Talat, you make a strong case but I myself do not have enough information to form an opinion. You do have my sympathy for your terrible loss. I know today must be very hard for you. Mohammed Hamdani was a true American hero and wherever his name is put on the memorial, he will always be remembered with affection and pride.

      September 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  12. Lindalou

    He went in to save people and lost his life..that's should be the only reason needed to put his name on the appropriate list.

    September 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • patiat

      "OR": The internet sure can make you feel like a strong person, can't it?

      September 27, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  13. annebeth

    If the NYPD saw fit to honor Mohammed Hamdani with a police funeral that included full honors and a badge on the 1st anniversary of 9/11, then he should be included with the list of the First Responders. He was a certified EMT and had training that he used to assist people during the attack. To exclude him seems to be petty and I hope that this is not because of his faith, because on that day he made the choice to be there to help in any way possible.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Talat Hamdani

      Salman was an NYPD Cadet on thne payroll. What you said is the same I am saying. I am asking for his due place in history. NYPD has done him and myh faily grave injustice. All I am asking is to acknowledge him as a C adet on the 911 memorials and name the street he lived on after him as they have named the streets after the other NYPD members who died.

      September 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  14. Anwar uz Zaman

    The kids mom may be correct. These guys are very good at hidding the real fact which is not politically saavy and, offcourse, the Islamophobic envangelical christians, neo-con catholics and jewish americans easily accepts it, as they
    are greenhouse of islam haters.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • winoceros

      There are not enough facts in this article nor in Mrs. Hamdani's response to determine whether Mr. Hamdani was actually in the employ of the Cadets or not. At age 23, it is not likely he was a college student any more, but not out of the question. Here are the requirements the program lists as necessary for retaining eligibility: To continue in the program a candidate must:

      Be enrolled in a 4-year degree program at an accredited college
      Maintain the 2.0 GPA and earn a minimum of 12 credits per semester
      Take the 1st available promotional Police Officer's exam while you are a Cadet
      Attend monthly training every 2nd Saturday of each month at the Police Academy
      Work full-time during the summer months
      Have your US Citizenship within two years of being hired or upon graduation from college, which ever comes first

      If he worked full time during the summer, but was not a student as of September, how could he have been eligible as a Cadet? This does not at all diminish his decision or sacrifice in returning to help other people on 9/11. It is simply a reflection of where people were recognized on the memorial. Those who responded as part of their job, on- or off-duty, and those who heroically responded because they felt they had a skill set they could bring to bear. Both are admirable.

      I would caution the readers to remember that there are specific benefits that are given to families of those first responders that were lost, and remember that this may or may not be about a plaque in a memorial or a street sign. Again, his sacrifice should not be tarnished nor enhanced by the posthumous actions of his family.

      Mr. and Mrs. Hamdani have my total sympathy, and I encourage them to understand that Americans do not measure heroism in terms of job description.

      October 28, 2012 at 2:42 am |
      • Tyler

        So winoceros, you state there are not enough facts in the article or Mrs. Hamdani's response to determine whether Mr. Hamdani was actually in the employ of the Cadets or not. Then you go on to say "At age 23, it is not likely he was a college student any more". I am 25 and a college student. Don't act like you are some amazing discerner of facts because you can make assumptions about a CNN article. It is harmful and you are speaking without any knowledge of her son's status as a cadet, a college student etc. So just stop acting like your comment brought anything to the conversation, because it was nothing more than useless conjecture.

        September 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • winoceros

      Sorry, I understand Mrs. Handani is widowed. I apologize for the oversight.

      October 28, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • Jo Marno

      Anwar...it is your precise statement that is filled with the stench of bigotry and hatred. If you want to be treated like a big boy, you need to act like one.

      September 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  15. davis lartey

    I'd have no problem if they put him on the memorial. That would be nice. But it's really irritating when people cry bigotry EVERY SINGLE TIME. He wasn't on the job, he wasn't following any orders from a superior. He was doing exactly what the regular joes on the street were doing, whether they were on the way to the office a few blocks past the building, or whatever. He just happened to be an EMT instead of a day trader. But of course it's all racism and hate, of course it is. Because it makes for a better news story.

    September 23, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Angie

      1) I agree people need to quit crying racism all the time, get over yourselves people, not everything in life is racially motivated.
      2) I understand their reasoning for stating he wasn't an "official first responder" but let's be honest during those attacks they needed everyone they could find. He had no other reason for being there other than helping. He had certifications and training and if he would have approached any supervisor at that time and told them they would have used him without a doubt.
      3) This young man gave his life helping people, and he should be considered a first responder.

      September 24, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • symone says

      @angie does it not occur to you that there were many other citizens who dashed forward to try to help, who didn't even get a posthumous police badge, who died in anonymity, or who returned home safely quietly horrified at what had been witnessed, and did not want to discuss it.

      she should be proud of his memory and of how he died, and she should be proud that he was awarded a police badge that it is safe to extrapolate would not have been earned had 9/11 not happened .. the young man had stopped pursuing being NYPD, stopped being a cadet, had a completely different job. yes he heroically ran in to help, but the fact that he once had been a NYPD cadet shouldn't make him any more revered than any other citizen who did the same thing, and trust me, therer were MANY who did.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Talat Hamdani

      Dear Davis: I know its not your child so you can never empathize. I am not crying racism without a reason. Salman was an NYPD Cadet on the payrol that day as well as an EMT. Injustice has been done to him b y not acknowledging his due place in history. Yes. The NYPD gave him a funeral on 4/5/2002 after circulating the discriminotorial flyer about him. The commissioner gave a badge in his honor on the first anniversary so why deny him his due place in history? God is great and He will get my son justice in due time. You will not be able to empathize because it was not your child, nor ytour parent or sibling.

      September 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
      • Guest

        May God reward your son a place in the highest Heaven and rejoin you and your family with him there Ameen.

        September 11, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  16. thrujet3

    no way. Not after what his kind did! He was no more innocent than any muslim on earth!

    September 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Rachel

      Seriously??? Because EVERY Muslim is exactly the same right? #ohokay ...your ignorance is frightening.

      September 23, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Talat Hamdani

      @thrujet: I could hold you responsible for many criminal acts committed by your people of faith but I am not going to because I really feekl sorry for you. May God guide you.

      September 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • amazed

      You should get out more and meet people......the Islamic belief system is not based on hate, neither is the Christian belief system....unfortunately however people worldwide will pervert even the most beautiful parts of any religion to meet their needs for control. That's all it is.......control of money, control of people, you name it. This young man was going to become a police officer that much is clear. His memory deserves better than the fear and hate his family received. As a Christian I for one thank his mother and father as they obviously did a great job of raising a son with love and a sense of responsibility. May God give them peace.

      September 27, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Khan

      I I want to guess why you think all Muslims are not innocent after what their kind did. Does it have to do with you don't know or you don't care. You must be a very lonely fellow since you are so thankless.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Khan

      Thrujet3 you obviously have gone too far. I hope you do acknowledge that you support your troops. I remind you of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan Cpl US Army, a 20 year old Muslim US citizen who lay his life in Iraq in 2007 for his country. And he is not the only one to do so.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • mjbc

      You're an idiot too...

      October 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Carl

      Like every christian was responsible for the OKC 'cus McVeigh was christian, right?

      September 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Guest

      The people who committed this atrocity do not represent Islam any more than Fred Phelps and his followers in the Westboro "Baptist" Church represent mainstream Christian beliefs.

      September 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  17. Dr.Watch

    I am not being racist but why do Americans discrimate against people of other races and religions?

    September 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Ike

      its the "American Way"! You bring generations of Africans here and then discriminate against them, sure bring "illegal" immigrants here to work in your farms and take care of your kids and pay them pennies and when they complain type legislation to deport them! Welcome to America!

      September 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.