HAMTRAMCK, Mich., Nov. 9 (UPI) — A city near Detroit made history when it elected the first Muslim-majority city council in the United States.
The town of Hamtramck, a long-time Polish-Catholic enclave, has been demographically changing for decades and the election symbolized how far the city had come. The top three vote-getters were Muslim, two were incumbents — Anam Miah and Abu Musa — and the third, newcomer Saad Almasmari, had the highest number of votes overall in last week’s election.
Almasmari is a 28-year-old student who moved to the United States in 2009 and became a citizen two years later.
“Hamtramck has made history,” community leader Bill Meyer said. “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.”
Though the percentage of Muslim residents in the town is not known, U.S. Census figures describe the city as currently 24 percent Arab, 19 percent African, 15 percent Bangladeshi, 12 percent Polish and 6 percent Yugoslavian. Estimates of Hamtramck’s Muslim population are between 30 percent to 50 percent.
Meyer said the city council’s incumbent Muslim councilmen have proven themselves to the city.
“[They’ve] helped bring stability, security and sobriety while lessening the amount of drugs and crime in the city,” he told the Detroit Free Press.
In 2004, the city made headlines when the city council — then with one Muslim council member — allowed a mosque to broadcast its call to prayer from loudspeakers. Opponents of the decision said it was a religious intrusion into their lives.