Hamtramck, a city in Michigan, has made history by electing the first Muslim-majority city council in the United States.
“What took place in Hamtramck is a very American endeavour. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll see a Muslim mayor,” Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said about the election.
The city with a population of 22,000 people elected three new city council members, with now four of six council members being Muslim.
Saad Almasmari, a 28-year-old from Yemen who was elected to the city council with the most percentage of votes (22 per cent) said, “Although we are Muslims, it doesn’t have anything to do with serving the community,” he said. “It’s not about religion. It’s not about Muslim unity. We are planning to work for everyone.”
Almasmari who moved to Hamtramck in 2009 and received his citizenship in 2011 also revealed that he faced opposition while campaigning for the election, with about half of his signs spray painted with an X.
Although Polish-Catholics made up 90 per cent of the population in the 1970s, the Muslim population in Hamtramck has grown steadily due to immigration, according to University of Michigan-Dearborn associate professor Sally Howell who has written a book on Michigan and US Muslims. Howell estimates that about 50 per cent of the people in the city are Muslims and the city has at least seven mosques, more mosques per capita than anywhere else in the country.
“Growth is taking place in these Muslim communities, and they are transforming the city scape. It’s become much more visible in the last 15 years,” Howell said.
According to a 2004 story in Detroit News, Hamtramck allowed mosques to broadcast the call to prayer onto public streets making it one of the few cities in the United States to approve the practice. Asian and Arab immigrants especially from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia-Herzegovina make up the Muslim population of Hamtramck.
This article originally appeared on Washington Post