“The six-member City Council of Hamtramck will consist of all Muslims starting in January, another historic first for the metro Detroit city known for its sizable immigrant population,” reports the Detroit Free Press:
The newly elected mayor, Amer Ghalib, 42, is also Muslim, which means all of the city’s elected officials will be Muslim. In Tuesday’s election, three candidates who are all Muslim were elected and will join three current City Council members who are also Muslim. Five of them are immigrants and one is a convert to Islam with ancestral roots in eastern Europe.
Advocates with Muslim groups and experts say they do not know of any other city council in the history of the U.S. that has been entirely Muslim.
Council members told the Free Press that religion will not play a role in their decisions. “It’s important to remember that although we all happen to be practicing Muslims, we are elected through the processes set forth by the United States, Michigan, Wayne County and Hamtramck,” Amanda Jaczkowski, one of the three newly elected Muslims on the council, told the Free Press. “We will all take an oath … to protect the Constitution of the United States, and that includes the concept of separation of church and state. I believe strongly in that separation, and although I will bring the Islamic values of honesty and integrity to the table, the policies that I promote and affirm will be what is best for all people of Hamtramck.”
Current City Councilman Mohammed Hassan stressed the same message. “Religion is not inside the (City Hall) building,” Hassan said. “It’s outside in the mosque and temple and the church. Not in City Hall.” Hassan added that “nothing will change in council, we remain the same.” “We respect all the religions,” Hassan said. “Inside the City Hall, we are responsible for the residents … we do our responsibility by the book.”
Khalil Refai, one of the three council candidates elected on Tuesday, was the top vote-getter….”I ran for office to solve everyday issues facing our community,” Refai said. “Fixing our sewers and lead pipes, finding creative ways to increase city revenue and creating a more transparent, inclusive City Hall are all important issues we heard during the campaign. I am looking forward to solving these issues with my colleagues”….
The percentage of Muslim residents in Hamtramck is not clear…But estimates based on census ancestry data suggest that about half are Muslim. About 25% of the city is of Arab descent, most of them Yemeni, and an additional 27% is of Asian ancestry, most of them Bangladeshi, according to 2019 census data….Out of the six council members, three will be of Yemeni descent, two of Bangladeshi descent and one who is white.
In most southern and midwestern states, there are now more Muslims than Jews, making Islam the second largest religion after Christianity Jews remain more numerous than Muslims in the northeast, while Buddhists are more numerous than Jews or Muslims in some parts of the west.