Michigan’s All-Muslim Governing Body Moves to Squash LGBTQ Expression

In a landmark decision, the city council of Hamtramck, Michigan, the only locale in the United States with an all-Muslim governing body and mayor, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to ban the display of LGBTQ Pride flags on all city properties. The resolution, introduced by Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Mohammed Hassan, emphasizes the city’s commitment to representing the international character of Hamtramck by flying only the American flag and flags of nations.

During a council meeting, Hassan responded to opponents of the proposal, stating, “You guys are the ones making problems… I’m working for the people, what the majority of the people like.” Hassan’s comments reflect his dedication to serving the community, focusing on the preferences of the majority while ensuring equal treatment for all residents without favoritism.

Mayor Amer Ghalib, who assumed office in 2021, expressed support for the resolution, emphasizing that the city serves everyone equally and does not discriminate. Ghalib highlighted the fact that LGBTQ individuals and supporters are represented on numerous boards and commissions within the city. Despite accusations of hatred, he asserted that he had never terminated the employment of anyone from the LGBTQ community.

“We serve everybody equally with no discrimination, but without favoritism,” Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib said. “Those people who accused me of hating them, half of my boards and commissions are either LGBTQ, or supporters for LGBTQ. I never fired anybody who belong to the LGBTQ.”

“We want to respect the religious rights of our citizens,” City Councilman Nayeem Choudhury echoed. “You guys are welcome. … [but] why do you have to have the flag shown on government property to be represented? You’re already represented. We already know who you are. … By making this [about] bigotry … it’s making it like you want to hate us.”

Hamtramck’s decision to ban the display of LGBTQ Pride flags stems from longstanding concerns about respecting religious rights within the community. City Councilman Nayeem Choudhury echoed these sentiments, stating, “You guys are welcome… why do you have to have the flag shown on government property to be represented? You’re already represented.” Choudhury’s remarks suggest that he believes the Pride flag’s presence on city property unnecessarily exacerbates divisions.

During the public comment session, one woman sarcastically suggested that Hamtramck’s slogan should be altered to reflect that the city “welcomes you if you’re straight,” while engaging in a public display of affection with another woman. The incident exemplified the tensions surrounding the debate.

Hassan Aoun, a Muslim community leader from nearby Dearborn, Michigan, voiced opposition to displaying the Pride flag on city property, stating, “Pride month, don’t put it down our throats… Do not put [the Pride flag] on city property.” Aoun’s comments reflect a desire to maintain the separation of religious beliefs from public displays.

The decision follows controversy surrounding Hamtramck’s Human Relations Commission Chair Russ Gordon, who flew a Pride flag alongside flags of other nations last year on Jos Campau Avenue. It remains unclear whether Gordon will continue the practice in light of the new resolution.