Hamtramck, Detroit – History has been made on the City of Hamtramck after it became the first city in the U.S. to elect a Muslim-majority for the city council. Anam Miah, Abu Musa and Saad Almasmari had the highest number of votes in a historically Polish-Catholic dominated town.
The city, with a population of nearly 22,000 people, voted for these three Muslim Council candidates, two of them being incumbents —Anam Miah and Abu Musa— as well as for the newcomer Almasmari. The Council is a six-member panel, headed by the Mayor Karen Majewski, who is Polish.
Bill Meyer, a community leader from the town, stated that these incumbent councilmen have made a lot for the city, bringing stability and security. They have also reduced the number of drugs and crime in the town.
Meyer added, “The election was far from close, with the three Muslim winners each gaining over 1,000 votes, while the other three candidates garnered less than 700 votes each,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
Councilman Muse, who ended in second place, stated that he will work hard to represent every citizen, regardless of their background. The immigrant from Bangladesh also said that he was voted by all the ethnic groups and that he’s a very good friend of the Polish people.
“I’m serving all city of Hamtramck,” he concludes.
It is impossible to say what is the percentage of Muslim residents in the town, as the U.S. Census doesn’t ask about religion. Nonetheless, the estimation ranges from one-third to one-half of the residents.
As the Muslim population kept growing, in 2004, the city allowed the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast through loudspeaker five times a day from mosques, a situation that has brought several complaints from residents.
In response to that, City Council candidate Susan Dunn, considered this issue during her campaign, saying that all residents want to be at peace, as well to live respectfully. Susan Dunn stated that she believes that diversity is what makes the town special.
Almasmari responded to these complaints by saying that the calling for prayer wasn’t that loud and that if so, then high music all night should be considered noise as well. Also, he added that all Muslims respect their neighbours, as their beliefs encourage them to do no harm to their neighbours.
What it is sure, is that Hamtramck Muslim population will continue to grow due to immigration, as some experts such as Sally Howell from the University of Michigan-Dearborn stated that this might become the first city to have a Muslim Majority. She warns that residents are also transforming the city’s landscape, making the change visible, as The Washington Post reported.
Nevertheless, this Muslim-majority in the city and in the Council shows progress. Years ago, Muslim candidates were harassed, accused of terrorism and even some of the Muslim voters were asked to show proof on their citizenship. Residents say that this is not about religion, it is about serving the community.
Source: Detroit Free Press