“What took place in Hamtramck is a very American endeavor,” says Dawud Walid. Walid heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, and Hamtramck, a Detroit suburb, just elected the United States’ first Muslim-majority city council.
It’s the oldest of American stories. New immigrant groups settle in a city or town and contribute to all aspects of their community — economic, cultural and political. The new Hamtramck council reflects the city’s changing demographics. Hamtramck has Polish Catholic roots, but recent immigration from the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe raised the city’s Muslim population to an estimated 50 percent of its 22,000 residents.
Of the Hamtramck city council’s six seats, four will be held by Muslims, including three Bengali Americans. And, Walid tells the Washington Post, “it’s only a matter of time before we’ll see a Muslim mayor.”
Saad Almasmari, 28, a native of Yemen who moved to the United States in 2009 and became a U.S. citizen in 2011, received the most votes of the six candidates on the ballot.
Almasmari, currently earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Wayne State University, will take office in January 2016.
“I’m proud to be an American Muslim, but we were elected by everyone in Hamtramck and we’re going to serve everyone,” Almasmari told the Wall Street Journal.