- Former chaplain at New York’s Albion Correctional Facility for women
- Characterized Osama bin Laden as “a warrior for Allah” and “a hero to all Muslims”
Aminah Akbar was a part-time female Muslim chaplain at upstate New York’s Albion Correctional Facility for women. About six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she addressed a crowd of about 120 inmates and made the following remarks:
- “Bin Laden is a warrior for Allah, as all Muslims should be. Bin Laden is a hero to all Muslims. The Taliban are right in not letting the U.S. take bin Laden. The U.S. has no proof that he destroyed the World Trade Center.”
- “The United States is a giant country. Why are they bombing a country [Afghanistan] the size of a pea?”
- “I am not an American. I just live here. We have been beaten and harassed for over 500 years, and we should not take it anymore.”
Joseph Green, a business agent for the New York State Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association union, later reported that Akbar had also told the inmates that the American government had lied about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and was now “making a scapegoat out of Osama bin Laden.”
Fearing that her rhetoric would exacerbate tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims at the penitentiary, prison officials fired her from the $29,395-per-year job. But an arbitrator later ruled that the firing was unjustified, stating that Akbar had also provided valuable services to the inmates — like advising them on such matters as education, employment, and personal relationships. Thus Akbar was temporarily reinstated and was permitted to retire instead.
Further Reading: “Muslim Put on Leave As Chaplain After Speech [Praising Bin Laden As Hero]” (Buffalo News, 11-2-2001); “New York Muslim Prison Chaplains Purged” (Prison Legal News, 9-15-2003).