HAMTRAMCK – Having twelve mosques calling to prayers five-times a day, Hamtramck city in Michigan is considered America’s first Muslim majority city in population and official levels, after the city elected its first Muslim-majority city council last November.
“We have no problem with the Polish, we have no problem with the black community,” mosque secretary Masud Khan told Agence France Presse (AFP).
“We are living together peacefully. Nobody complains about the call to prayer anymore.”
The city of around 22,000 was long an enclave for Polish immigrants and their descendants, attracted to the area by jobs in the auto-mobile industry.
Now, however, it is 60% Muslim after an influx of Yemenis, Pakistanis and Bosnians.
In the city, the scene of Muslim women donning hijab walking alongside girls in tight jeans, men with closely shaved heads and youths in baggy pants pass by each other is quite often.
Stores, restaurants and supermarkets are equally diverse, welcoming Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Polish clientele. Kebab vendors coexist alongside Indian food joints.
Hamtramck is “a manifestation of what America is meant to be. A place of opportunity,” said Mayor Karen Majewski, who proudly announced that Syrian refugees were recently welcomed into the city.
Being an enclave for Polish immigrants, local Catholic priest Mirek Frankowski said that some Polish people are worried by the shift.
“They’re worried that the city will lose its eastern European character. The city will change, that’s a natural course,” he said.
Anam Miah, who was born in Bangladesh and is one of the four Muslim city council members, said that he cherished “the diversity of cultures in our community.”
Saad Almasmari, the city councilor whose election tipped the balance for the Muslim majority, rejected any claims that they will aim at introducing Islamic Shari`ah law.
“We’re going to represent every single person in Hamtramck, regardless of religion or ethnicity, or color of their skin,” he said.
“It’s not about Muslim or non-Muslim, it’s about qualifications.”