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    MUSLIM OFFICER UNDER FIRE By Mauri Saalakhan Peace and Justice Foundation Muslims in the greater Washington area have become all too familiar with how Muslims
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2008
      By Mauri' Saalakhan
      Peace and Justice Foundation

      Muslims in the greater Washington area have become all too familiar
      with how Muslims of varied cultural hues, coming from very diverse
      economic and political backgrounds, have become the collective
      target for the new McCarthyism sweeping post 9/11 America. A case
      out of Connecticut exemplifies just how broad and nebulous this
      targeting has become.

      The opening lines of a front-page report that appeared in the
      Monday, July 28, 2008 edition of the Connecticut Post said it all:

      "Mustafa Salahuddin has a scrapbook filled with commendations he has
      earned during nearly two decades as a police officer. There are
      thank-you notes from people whose cases Salahuddin has investigated.
      There are certificates from the Ansonia Police Department marking
      milestones of service and successful investigations. But now,
      Salahuddin faces larceny charges that he says will tarnish the
      reputation he has tried to build as a respected and responsible

      In July 2008, Officer Salahuddin was charged with stealing a $25
      garden hose from the Ansonia Police Department, even though it was
      later found on the grounds of the department. Salahuddin maintains
      the charge was lodged in retaliation over his differences with the
      department's leadership. He has a history of not only standing up
      for his rights, but standing up for the rights of others as well.

      As noted in an interview with the Connecticut Post, Salahuddin
      stated, "I'm a very outspoken officer within the department. I stand
      up for my rights and I help others stand up for theirs." This has
      resulted in friction between him and members of the upper command,
      including Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale.

      It should also be noted that Officer Salahuddin was the first Muslim
      police officer in America to successfully sue his department for the
      right to reasonable religious accommodations - his request to wear a
      neatly-trimmed beard while in uniform. He believes that among other
      issues, there are lingering resentments stemming from that
      successful lawsuit which also factor into this latest attack on his
      otherwise sterling reputation.

      Chief Hale reportedly asked the State Police to investigate the
      possible theft of the water hose after a Department of Public Works
      employee reported the hose missing, and a surveillance camera
      reportedly showed Officer Salahuddin with the hose in his
      possession. (You heard it right; the police chief requested the
      intervention of the State Police concerning a $25 waterhose, and
      before speaking with the officer in question himself.)

      When I asked the accused officer what kind of support he has
      received from his police union, Officer Salahuddin's response
      immediately sent up a red flag. As a human rights activist who has
      dealt with many cases of well documented police misconduct, I have
      seen police unions throughout the nation mount some of the most
      aggressive defense campaigns in support of rogue officers accused of
      malicious beatings, wounding and homicides.

      In case after case I have personally witnessed how police unions
      will often defend the indefensible. But when I asked Mustafa what
      kind of support he was getting from his union in this water hose
      case, the response was "none." When I asked why, he informed me that
      the union's leadership is comprised of management officers – a clear
      conflict of interest in any case where management has targeted one
      of its own officers for dismissal and/or possible criminal sanction.

      He said something else in his interview with the Connecticut Post
      that for this writer was chilling: "My tenure here has been good in
      terms of the community, but a disaster in terms of the department.
      On the streets I feel safe, but in the department I never feel safe."

      Salahuddin, 46, was born in Philadelphia (PA), and grew up in
      Bridgeport (CT), where he witnessed first-hand the best and worst of
      policing in the black community. When he joined the Ansonia police
      force in 1993, after serving three years with the Yale New Haven
      Hospital police force, he did so with his eyes wide open and with a
      determination to be the best he could be.

      "I always admired the police and had good role models during my
      younger years," he noted in his interview with the Connecticut
      Post. "But I also saw a lot of injustices done, and I thought
      between the two, that I could be a good minority police officer."

      Officer Salahuddin's principled commitment to being a "good officer"
      has been rewarded with very visible support from the community he
      has served. The state and local branches of the NAACP, in
      conjunction with a local church, led a protest march on Monday, July
      28, in support of Officer Salahuddin. The crowd marched from the
      Clinton AME Church on Central Avenue to City Hall, where Ansonia
      Mayor Jim Della Volpe came out to speak to them.

      NAACP Valley chapter President Greg Johnson and Della Volpe both
      voiced support for bringing in the U.S. Department of Justice to
      investigate the equally important peripheral issues surrounding this

      State NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile declared at the
      demonstration, "This [case] is based on propaganda against this
      police officer to destroy his name and destroy his wife's name, and
      destroy his children's name… You should not tolerate the use of your
      tax dollars for this nonsense." This writer couldn't agree more.

      Officer Mustafa S. Salahuddin has been placed on administrative
      leave with pay until the case is resolved. He has been charged
      with "Larceny in the Sixth Degree," for which he has already pled
      NOT GUILTY. His trial is scheduled to begin on the morning of
      Thursday, September 4, 2008, in the Derby Superior Court - located
      at 106 Elizabeth Street, Derby, Connecticut 06418.

      Insha'Allah, The Peace And Justice Foundation will be present to
      monitor the trial and show our support for this besieged officer.
      And for the record, this one is personal. Mustafa Sultan Salahuddin
      is my brother.

      El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan serves as Director of Operations for The
      Peace And Justice Foundation.

      He can be reached at peacethrujustice @ aol.com .



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