A Michigan city known for its large immigrant population just became the first in the U.S. to be run entirely by Muslim elected officials.
What are the details?
Residents of Hamtramck, Michigan, located just outside Detroit, recently elected a Muslim mayor and three more Muslim city council members, the Detroit Free Press reported. So, beginning in January, all six of the city council positions will be held by Muslim members.
“Five of them are immigrants and one is a convert to Islam with ancestral roots in eastern Europe,” the Free Press added, noting that Hamtramck — which used to be a Polish Catholic enclave — now boasts a majority population of residents who claim either Arab or Asian ancestry.
According to census data, more than two-thirds of the city’s roughly 28,000 residents speak a language other than English in their homes.
Various Muslim groups told the Free Press that Tuesday’s historic election made Hamtramck the first city in the nation to elect all Muslims to its political posts. Likewise, the Council on American-Islamic Relations confirmed that assessment to Axios.
What are they saying?
Council members insisted in conversations with the Free Press that they would not let Islam influence their governing decisions.
“It’s important to remember that although we all happen to be practicing Muslims, we are elected through the processes set forth by the United States, Michigan, Wayne County, and Hamtramck,” Amanda Jaczkowski, one of the three newly elected Muslims, said.
She continued, “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. I believe strongly in that separation, and although I will bring the Islamic values of honesty and integrity to the table, the policies that I promote and affirm will be what is best for all people of Hamtramck.”
“Religion is not inside the [City Hall] building,” current Councilman Mohammed Hassan added. “It’s outside in the mosque and temple and the church. Not in City Hall.”
Another newly elected council member, Khalil Refai, made it clear that this focus would be on local policy issues.
“I ran for office to solve everyday issues facing our community,” he said. “Fixing our sewers and lead pipes, finding creative ways to increase city revenue, and creating a more transparent, inclusive City Hall are all important issues we heard during the campaign. I am looking forward to solving these issues with my colleagues. I am a proud Hamtramckan, and I love living in a community that has people with many different religious backgrounds.”
The incompatibility between Islamic Sharia law and American constitutional law has been a subject of controversy in recent years as more and more Muslims are elected to governing posts in the United States.
While many Muslims — including some members of the U.S. Congress — appear to serve without issue, some argue that conflicts between the two systems can and will continue to arise.
As an example, earlier this year, a Texas judge denied a U.S. citizen due process rights and instead ordered her to appear before an Islamic Sharia tribunal to arbitrate a divorce from her husband.