American Muslim Deqa Dhalac has made history for the second time after being elected as the mayor of Maine’s fourth largest city, three years after being elected to the city council.
“It was so beautiful,” Dhalac said before Monday’s ceremony. “It brought tears to my eyes,” The Portland Press Herald reported.
Dhalac, a Somali who fled her country 31 years ago, was formally seated at the top elected leader of South Portland city on Monday after serving three years as District 5 city councilor.
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The joyous news was celebrated by the Maine Muslim community, calling it a sign of the increasing civic involvement of the American Muslim community.
Abdullahi Ahmed, principal of Deering High School in Portland and a leader of Maine’s Somali community, delivered the opening prayer at the council’s inauguration ceremony.
“You are here to build on the work that was ongoing,” Ahmed said. “We are so proud of you, Deqa.”
Reza Jalali, executive director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, was among many leaders of Maine’s immigrant community who attended the ceremony at South Portland High School.
“All of us new Mainers take personal pride in this,” Jalali said as he arrived.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, praised Dhalac’s election “as a sign of the increasing civic involvement of the American Muslim community,” spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper said.
“We hope Mayor Dhalac will help inspire a new generation of American Muslims as they take an increasing role in building a better society.”
US Muslims celebrated historic win in November elections.