Mich. Elects First Muslim-Majority City Council in US
It's in the formerly Polish-dominated Hamtramck
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Suggested by JackNelsonSteward
Posted Nov 9, 2015 9:55 AM CST
Chilean artist Dasic Fernandez stands in front of his latest creation, a mural honoring Yemeni Americans on the side of a restaurant in Hamtramck, Mich., Dec. 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Lauren Abdel-Razzaq)

(Newser) – Polish-Catholics made up 90% of Hamtramck, Mich., in the 1970s, but much has changed since—including a city council that's mostly Muslim after Tuesday's elections, likely making it the first US city to have a Muslim-majority council, the Christian Science Monitor reports. A local community leader tells the Detroit Free Press that "Hamtramck has made history" with a contest that wasn't even close among the six candidates vying for three seats. Anam Miah and Abu Musa, incumbent city councilmen, each got more than 1,000 votes, as did newbie Saad Almasmari, while the other three candidates garnered fewer than 700 votes each. Because census reports don't ask about religion, it's not clear what the Muslim population of Hamtramck is, though estimates run between 30% and 50%, the Free Press notes. Only 12% of the populace remains Polish, per US Census figures cited by the paper, with Arabs making up 24%, African Americans 19%, and Bangladeshis 15%.

It's not the first time Muslims in Hamtramck have made their mark. In 2004, the city OKed the Muslim call to prayer being broadcast from mosques' loudspeakers, spurring some noise complaints, per the Free Press. And Muslim organizer Ibrahim Algahim is making waves via a cellphone video in which he reportedly said of election results, "Today we show the Polish and everybody else." That prompted a losing candidate to tell Fox 2 Detroit, "I'm shocked that he said that. I cannot believe that he would ever profile any select group." But Almasmari—a Yemeni who moved to the US in 2009 and became a US citizen in 2011, per UPI—rejects that. "I don't believe in [Algahim's statement]," he tells Fox 2. "As a city council member, I'm going to work for everybody ... because I got elected for everybody." (An ex-MLB player compared Muslims to Nazis.)