Despite all the hoopla over tolerance versus intolerance, USA continues to be the land of freedom of speech, justice and multiculturalism. Hamtramck- a town in Detroit area elected its first Muslim-majority city council. A town that was predominantly Polish Catholic in 1970s is today a Muslim -majority place.
That was in the first week of November of 2015. We profile one of the new councilman, Saad Almasmari.
Winning the majority of votes in Hamtramck City Council, Saad Almasmari described his excitement and experience about the race to it. “I am a social guy, I like helping my community, my city” says Almasmari.
Among three American-Muslim candidates on the ballot, Yemen born Saad Almasmari was one of them. All three received the most votes in a town that has the largest percentages of foreign born citizens in Michigan. “This is the city that has distinguished itself among others that the majority of the people on the city council are Muslims” Osama Siblani, publisher of Arab American News. But this news made a bigger remark due to its timing. “While presidential candidates are trying to prevent Muslims from coming to this county, they are becoming majority in one of the cities. I think this is the news” he adds.
Hamtramck was unhappy to know Mr. Donald Trump’s statement to ban Muslims from coming to America. “We have about 27% of Yemenis in Hamtramck, 22% Bengalis and about 11% Brazilians who are all Muslims” says Almasmari. From a Polish Catholic auto workers’ settlement, to Muslim American shop owners and businesses Hamtramck has been a case study for changing demographics by recent immigration. “Yes, it has all been quite surprising, all these national and international attention” Karen Majewski, Mayor- Hamtramck.
But this attention couldn’t last longer. When Almasmari attended his first general city council meeting in January, only two media organizations were present to record the moment. “In the council, I am an American before I am a Muslim. One of the newspapers asked me if I was able to meet Mr Trump, would you? I said yes I have no issues in meeting him. And then three days later, I received an email from their campaign asking if I can meet him for like 15-20 mins.”
If he ever meets Mr. Trump, he wouldn’t talk about his faith, but helping Hamtramck which is in financial trouble and has highest poverty rates in the state of Michigan clears Saad Almasmari.
-by Vrushali Mahajan
Vrushali is pursuing her graduation in Journalism and is an intern at NewsGram. You can reach the author at twitter- Vrushali Mahajan