Aliou Niasse, a Muslim Immigrant, Alerted Police to Times Square Bomb

6 years ago

You could watch the major networks reporting on the Times Square failed car bomb for hours and possibly not catch this politically pertinent piece of information: The first person to alert the police about the smoking car was a Muslim immigrant from Senegal, Aliou Niasse.

Car Bomb Found In New York's Times Square

Drawing from an early story in the UK Times Online, Gawker asked the day after the Times Square evacuation who was the real hero?

According to that UK Times article:

Aliou Niasse, a street vendor selling framed photographs of New York, said that he was the first to spot the car containing the bomb, which pulled up right in front of his cart on the corner of 45th street and Broadway next to the Marriott hotel.

"I didn't see the car pull up or notice the driver because I was busy with customers. But when I looked up I saw that smoke appeared to be coming from the car. This would have been around 6.30pm.

"I thought I should call 911, but my English is not very good and I had no credit left on my phone, so I walked over to Lance, who has the T-shirt stall next to mine, and told him. He said we shouldn't call 911. Immediately he alerted a police officer near by," said Mr Niasse, who is originally from Senegal and who has been a vendor in Times Square for about eight years.

The Gawker post says Orton got the credit, not Niasse, and linking to another post, asserts Orton wasn't very happy about the media attention he received.

In our world advocating religious tolerance, color blindness, and with consistent confusion and distortion of political correctness, undoubtedly some will read reports of Niasse's background and think, the person's citizenship, religion, and ethnicity are not important. It's a person's bigotry that notices religion, national origin, and ethnicity. Such assumptions prompt a question, "Should we not confront bigotry with facts that illuminate ignorance and misinformation?"

Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly hits on the head exactly why we should make a mental note of the hero's background. He writes:

For those who are inclined to treat Muslim-Americans as second-class citizens -- or, in the case of the truly unhinged, deport Muslim-American immigrants -- keep Aliou Niasse in mind.

The Buzz at The Root also posted on Niasse, excerpting a Think Progress article, "Media Ignore The Fact That Man Who Alerted Police To Failed Times Square Bombing Is A Muslim Immigrant:"

Much of the media has latched onto Shahzad's Muslim faith and his Pakistani identity, making inflammatory remarks and suggestions about Muslims and Pakistanis ... Yet one fact being ignored in the American media’s sensationalist narrative about the failed bombing is that the man who was responsible for police finding the bomb was Muslim.

Think Progress directs its readers to an opinion piece at the Huffington Post by Sumbul Ali-Karamali, author of "The Muslim Next Door: the Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing." She says that as a Muslim who would never dream of committing an act of terrorism, she dreaded news that the alleged perpetrator was Muslim. Consequently, she was relieved to learn a Muslim also helped the police.

It's somewhat consoling to know that the man who first noticed the smoking Nissan Pathfinder and sought help is also Muslim, a Senegalese immigrant. I wonder if he was, as I am, deeply bewildered and infinitely saddened by the violence that's being associated with Islam.

... Terrorists are not "jihadists," though they want you to believe they are. The U.S. government has stopped calling terrorists "jihadists," because so doing legitimizes the terrorists' violent behavior and makes it easier for them to recruit people. This is not political correctness - it's just smart strategy. We correctly don't describe the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups as "Christian holy warriors," (even if they base their actions on the Bible); rather, we dismiss them as fringe extremists, and we don't legitimize their actions by accepting their religious characterization of them.

I hope we can remember the Muslim Senegalese man who raised the alarm about the smoking car, as well as the criminal who put it there. Muslims, like people of all religions, do good things and bad things. Unfortunately, our media highlights emphasizes the bad and rarely mentions the good. Religious doctrine is not the same as what people do. I hope my fellow Americans remember that -- but in the meantime, let me condemn violence in the name of Islam and offer up another heartfelt prayer for peace.

Sumbul Ali-Karamali is not only a book author, but also an attorney with an additional degree in Islamic law.

Another blogger praising Niasse's heroism is Shamai Leibowitz, an Israeli-American attorney. He writes, "This man should receive a special award from Mayor Bloomberg for saving the lives of countless human beings."

Looking for the name "Aliou Niasse" using Google's news search, this BlogHer contributing editor can say his name does show up, but it does not surface often in mainstream media reports about the Times Square incident. As of this posting, the most recent mainstream source mentioning the Muslim immigrant's help was an article at the San Francisco Chronicle, "Times Square suspect's strange bedfellow: media." However, the article is about the Muslim man police arrested, Faisal Shahazad, not the Muslim man who notified the police.

Nordette Adams is a BlogHer Contributing Editor & you can find her other stuff through Her 411.

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