In Hamtramck, a small town in Michigan, the election of Muslim Democratic Mayor, Amer Ghalib, was interpreted as a triumph of progressive politics. However, in recent months, the councilman's decisions have pitted him against numerous community members who accuse him of wanting to end "diversity" in the city.
Criticism of Ghalib began in June when the city council voted to ban the display of any flag other than that of the United States. The decision drew backlash from members of LGBT organizations as an attempt to prevent the use of the LGBT pride flag. From that moment, a movement began to try to force the Democratic mayor to change his mind.
During the public comments, two women who opposed the Hamtramck resolution banning LGBTQ flags from city property, one wearing a clown nose, gave a sarcastic presentation, then kissed in front of the city council: pic.twitter.com/QFO4ws3i4H
— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) June 14, 2023
But Ghalib is firm in his decision. In fact, on Labor Day he made headlines again by refusing to parade with an organization called the Hamtramck Queer Alliance. Ghalib's refusal was backed by a majority of the City Council. In a statement, published by The Washington Post, the mayor said that his decision not to parade was given because, in his opinion, the intention was to "destroy" his image.
"Basically, they wanted to destroy our image in front of our supporters by making us look like we were leading the queer group with all those flags flying behind us," Ghalib said in a statement.
"Diversity is being tested"
Media outlets such as The Washington Post have published reports telling how the mayor's position has upset LGBT organizations. In addition, they have accused him of betraying the diversity of the city. "The ethnic, cultural and religious diversity that made Hamtramck something of a model is being put severely to the test." reported The Washington Post, which noted that Ghalib's election was expected to boost progressive policies because he is an immigrant.
"Many residents in this tiny enclave just north of downtown Detroit saw these changes as a sign of the Hamtramck’s progressiveness. The Muslim community that had previously experienced discrimination, including voter intimidation and resistance to mosques’ public call to prayer, had finally taken its seats at the table", said The Washington Post.
Hamtramck is not the first city to make a similar decision. Last week, two California school districts passed a policy to limit what flags can be flown on school property. Primarily, the proposal states that flags other than those authorized by schools, such as LGBT pride, should not be displayed. The measure was taken in districts of the Southern California city of Temecula and the small Bay Area town of Sunol.