The mayor of Hamtramck, Michigan, is refusing to back down in the face of criticism from LGBT advocates who are angry that his city banned the display of pride flags on public buildings.
What is the background?
In June, the Hamtramck city council — believed to the first all-Muslim city council in the country — unanimously voted to prohibit the display of “religious, ethnic, racial, political or sexual orientation group flags” on public property, leading to criticism from LGBT advocates.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post gave that criticism new life. The newspaper published a story airing the grievances of LGBT advocates who claim the city council passed the rule to target them specifically.
“The sole purpose was absolutely to go after the gay pride flag,” said one local LGBT advocate. Another told the Post the flag rule “has always been about being anti-queer.”
What did the mayor say?
Mayor Amer Ghalib (D) says those critics are far from the truth.
“The city council decided to stay neutral on such controversial issues. Public spaces and city properties are shared spaces among all residents and should not be used by special interest groups to promote their agenda,” Ghalib told Fox News. “We just specified which flags to be allowed to fly on city properties: U.S. flag, state, city, and POW flags are allowed. Everything else is not.
“No other group complained except the LGBT, because everyone believes it’s fair and just decision,” he explained. “The city treats and serves everyone equally, no discrimination or preferential treatment.”
Not only did Ghalib defend the city council’s decision, but he went on the offense. He said LGBT advocates are “acting as victims” because Hamtramck’s leaders are Muslim.
“I, as a mayor, as well as the city council don’t represent all American Muslims, we just act on the best interest of our city and our residents,” he said. “Muslims are diverse and hold different views about these issues, so why generalizing! I disagree with some Muslim elected officials in the same district or in neighboring cities.
“Acting as victims of American Muslims is an exaggerating response,” he continued. “We feel that we are being disrespected in the only Muslim-majority city, where some political groups try to enforce their values on us and are not willing to compromise.”
Glaib said the rule is also about “trying to close the door for other groups that could be extremist or racist.” He called the rule “legal and constitutional” and clarified that the “vast majority” of Hamtramck’s residents approve of it.
“Showing support using city resources and properties to one group and ignoring the rest of the community is just going to create more problems to our city government,” he said.
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