Mike Merli, PAR reader
On Dec. 27, 2019, I took shahada at the Friday Jummah prayer at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center, and officially converted to Islam, in public, in front of so many people. It was a beautiful moment, filled with love, and lots of hugging and happiness as I entered a new chapter in my life. Or, in many ways, began life anew.
Mubarak is a word, a name, a greeting we say, and a blessing we offer to each other, on joyous occasions, and holidays and on every Friday, which marks the most important day and prayer of the week, the Jummah prayer, or Friday afternoon prayer.
Eid Mubarak. Ramadan Mubarak. Jummah Mubarak.
I’ll never forget learning the name Mubarak Soulemane, shot and killed by Connecticut State Trooper Brian North on January 15, 2020. Less than a month after I converted to Islam.
Last Friday night, one week ago today, marked one year. To mark the anniversary, there was a vigil, a beautiful, and heartbreaking gathering at the site of Mubarak’s murder, on Campbell Avenue in West Haven. Mubarak’s family and friends were joined by community and neighbors who showed up in solidarity and support.
Justice for Mubarak organizer Kira Ortoleva spoke about meeting Mubarak as a student at Gateway Community College in New Haven. She talked about how they became best friends. She spoke of Mubarak’s heart, his generosity, the kindness with which he lived his life, and how much he cared about other people.
Mubarak’s mother Omo lifted her voice through so much pain, and in tears spoke about her son. Her family’s devastating and unimaginable loss was tangible and heartbreaking.
Other relatives of Mubarak’s spoke as well and illuminated his beautiful life for the world to see. His pursuit of business, his passion for sports.
West Haven-based organizer Farah Najjari emphasized the need for centering Black lives in this moment. As someone who is Muslim herself, she closed her powerful speech by addressing Mubarak’s family and saying, “Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajioon” (“Verily we belong to Allah, and to Allah we return”).
There were chants of Black Lives Matter, and Justice for Mubarak that reverberated throughout that underpass that night, and inside each of us gathered there.
Middletown State’s Attorney Michael Gailor still hasn’t made a decision yet on whether or not he will charge Trooper Brian North for Mubarak’s murder.
We have to keep learning about Mubarak. We have to keep saying his name. We have to keep supporting his family, and fighting for justice.
To connect with the Justice for Mubarak movement and stay updated:
Mariyann Soulemane’s recent interview on Counterpoint with Scott Harris: btlonline.org/mariyann-soulemane-fights-for-justice-for-her-brother-slain-by-ct-state-police
My recent interview with Kira Ortoleva on WPKN’s Mic Check: soundcloud.com/wpkn895/mubarak-soulemanes-murder-by-ct-state-police-one-year-later