NEW YORK – In shocking news to the American Muslim community, the body of the United States’ first-ever female Muslim judge was found Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River near Manhattan, leaving many unanswered questions about the death of the renowned figure.
“This is tragic,” tweeted Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization based in Oakland, USA Today reported on Wednesday, April 12.
“We share our condolences to Judge Abdus-Salaam’s family and to the people of NY. Stay strong.”
New York State Court of Appeals Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found floating in the river off 132nd Street, in Harlem, on Wednesday afternoon.
The shocking discovery came one day after she was reported missing.
Police sources said there were no signs of obvious trauma or injuries indicating foul play, the New York Daily News reported.
New Yorkers hailed her Wednesday night for her work and legacy.
“Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist and a force for good,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said via Twitter.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies.”
The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History said Abdus-Salaam was the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge.
She was also the first black woman appointed to the state’s highest court.
Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington, DC, became the first African American woman appointed to the court of appeals when Cuomo, named her to the state’s highest court in 2013.
“Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“As the first African American woman to be appointed to the state’s court of appeals, she was a pioneer. Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.”
Jonathan Lippman, who once served as the chief judge of the state Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2015, said Abdus-Salaam’s death is a “terrible blow.”
“I’m deeply saddened at having lost a dear friend and colleague, and the court has suffered a terrible blow,” Lippman told the Post.
“She was a superb jurist and an even more superb human being,” he continued. “I knew her for many, many years. To some degree, we grew up together in the court. I’ve known her in all her different roles in the court. It’s just so shocking … If you ask anyone about her, people would say only the most wonderful things. That’s why it makes it even more difficult to understand.”