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Muslims win workplace in US municipal elections in 2021

(RNS) — In Dearborn, Michigan, the place the mayor as soon as promised to do one thing in regards to the metropolis’s “Arab downside,” Abdullah Hammoud, a Lebanese American Muslim, was elected this month to fill that put up.

In New York, Bangladeshi American Shahana Hanif turned the primary Muslim girl on the Metropolis Council. Boston, the place Muslims quantity fewer than 80,000, additionally received its first Muslim member of the Metropolis Council.

Each election cycle in recent times appears to see historic firsts for Muslim Individuals. This 12 months, three years after the primary Muslim girls had been elected to Congress, profitable campaigns in Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania put Muslims in key native places of work. 

Hammoud is certainly one of three newly elected Arab American Muslim mayors within the Detroit suburbs. 

“By no means draw back from who you’re,” said Hammoud, who at present sits on the state Legislature in Lansing. “Be happy with your title, be snug in your identification, as a result of it’ll take you locations for those who work exhausting, you’re passionate and also you encourage individuals.”

In Dearborn Heights, simply west of Dearborn, the newly elected Lebanese-born mayor, Invoice Bazzi, has held the put up since final 12 months, when he was appointed to the place.

In Hamtramck, Amer Ghalib, an immigrant from Yemen, defeated Karen Majewski to develop into the primary non-Catholic and non-Polish mayor within the metropolis’s historical past. 

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One other Yemeni American, Amira Muflahi, turned the primary Muslim elected to the Lackawanna Metropolis Council, in upstate New York. 

Shama Haider. Courtesy photograph

Election Day additionally noticed two Muslims win workplace in New Jersey. Shama Haider, a former Tenafly councilwoman, develop into the primary Muslim elected to the state Legislature. Haider was an opponent of Pakistan’s army dictatorship within the Nineteen Seventies and at one level served as a secretary for the primary girl of Pakistan, Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Haider immigrated to america in 1977. Haider has vowed that she doesn’t wish to be generally known as the “token Muslim girl” within the Legislature however, relatively as an efficient legislator.

One other Pakistani American, Muhammad Umar, turned the primary Muslim elected to the Galloway Township, New Jersey, council.

RELATED: Michigan attorney is first Muslim Arab American woman to stand before Supreme Court

New Jersey at present has extra Muslim officers than another state. Haider’s victory is all of the extra notable following the election evening upset of the state’s Senate president, Steve Sweeney, by little-known Republican challenger Edward Durr.

In a 2019 tweet, Durr known as Islam a “cult of hate” and referred to those that observe “muslim teachings” as fools. Durr additionally drew criticism for social media posts evaluating COVID-19 vaccination efforts to the Holocaust. He has since apologized.

In Boston, Tania Fernandes Anderson gained her council seat by defeating Roy Owens, who had relied closely on anti-Muslim rhetoric in his marketing campaign.

Cape Verde-born Anderson is happy with her Sunni Muslim religion and needs the town of Boston to acknowledge Muslim holidays akin to Eid al-Fitr, whereas pledging to signify Boston’s numerous inhabitants.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Etel Haxhiaj, an Albanian American, turned the primary Muslim elected to the Worcester Metropolis Council. Previous to final week’s election, one native media outlet reported that solely three Muslims had ever been elected to workplace within the state.

In Pennsylvania, Taiba Sultana, an immigrant from Pakistan, gained a seat on the Easton Metropolis Council. Azrin Awal, a Bangladeshi American immigrant, turned the primary Muslim elected to the Duluth Metropolis Council in Minnesota.

Whereas most of the new Muslim officers are the product of pure cycles of maturing immigrant communities and civic engagement, others proceed to be impressed by discrimination and anti-Muslim bias.

Within the aftermath of final week’s historic slate of Muslim electoral victories, a Durham, North Carolina, county commissioner introduced her intention to run for Congress. Nida Allam was mates with the three Muslims killed within the 2015 Chapel Hill slayings.

“In 2015, my three finest mates had been killed in a hate crime,” she mentioned in a tweet saying her marketing campaign on Nov. 8. ”In 2020, I turned the primary Muslim girl elected to workplace in NC — ever. Now I’m working for Congress to hold on their legacy. I’m combating for financial and racial justice — and a brighter future.”

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