Muslim mayor, all-Muslim city council elected in Michigan in national first
By Carl Samson
November 11, 2021
A city in Michigan made history last week after it elected the U.S.’ first-ever all-Muslim city council led by a Muslim mayor.
Who they are: Adam Albarmaki, Amanda Jaczkowski and Khalil Refai won Hamtramck’s City Council election on Nov. 2. They will join current council members Nayeem Choudhury, Mohammed Hassan and Mohammed Alsomiri. All six individuals identify as Muslims. Amer Ghalib, who was elected mayor, is also Muslim.
- Five of the new set of councilmembers are immigrants, while one is a Muslim convert with ancestors who came from eastern Europe, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which claims to be the country’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization, told Axios that Hamtramck is likely to be the first city in the nation to elect both an all-Muslim city council and a Muslim mayor.
- While they are all Muslims, the councilmembers stressed that religion will not influence their decisions. “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,” Jaczkowski told the Detroit Free Press.
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The big picture: Hamtramck was once known as an enclave for Polish Catholic immigrants. Today, nearly half of its 29,000 residents are believed to be Muslims, as per census ancestry data.
- The city is also now home to other immigrants. “This City Council truly represents all the elements of Hamtramck history, whether they are Arabs, South Asian or European descendants,” M. Baqir Mohie El-Deen, policy program manager at the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), told NBC News.
- A total of 110 Muslim American candidates ran for the general election across 24 states and Washington, D.C. in 2020, according to a report by CAIR, Jetpac and MPower Change. The groups said it was the highest number they have seen since they started mapping the electoral progress of Muslim politicians.
- The number of registered Muslim voters has also increased. In 2020, 78% of eligible voters registered to vote, up from just 60% in 2016, according to a study from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU).
Aside from Hamtramck, Dearborn and Dearborn Heights also elected Muslim mayors for the first time, the Free Press noted. They will each have three Muslim members in their City Councils as well.
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