City Council Makes National News Over Flag Decision
The city council of Hamtramck, Michigan, the only U.S. locale with an all-Muslim governing body and mayor, voted unanimously Tuesday night to ban the display of LGBTQ Pride flags on all city properties.
Tensions ran high at the meeting as the proposal was discussed, particularly when the Mayor Pro Tem and councilman, Mohammed Hassan, accused its opponents of “making problems.” His comment was met with jeers from those present, and one woman even kissed another woman sarcastically in response.
The resolution states that on city properties, only the American flag and the flags of other nations which represent the international character of the city may be flown. It forbade the presence of any flags which represent or support a “religious, ethnic, racial, political, or sexual orientation group.”
The mayor of Hamtramck, Amer Ghalib, clarified his position on the flag ban, saying, "We serve everybody equally with no discrimination.” Ghalib also noted that the makeup of his boards and commissions reflect his support for LGBTQ persons.
The Pride Flag resolution is in part a response to former mayor Karen Majewski’s decision to fly it outside of Hamtramck City Hall. The decision sparked intense debate in the city, with the conservative Christian and Muslim communities joining forces to battle the LGBT community over a proposed ordinance.
The resolution passed despite the opposition of LGBTQ organizations in the city. Councilman Nayeem Choudhury noted, “We want to respect the religious rights of our citizens. … 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.”
One person who did speak in favor of the decision was Hassan Aoun, a Muslim community leader from Dearborn, Michigan. Aoun communicated that while the LGBT community is welcomed in Hamtramck, it’s not necessary to publicize this opinion city-wide. “Pride month, don’t put it down our throats. You can be gay by yourself. … Do not put [the Pride flag] on city property.”
The ban on Pride flags in Hamtramck has triggered strong reactions both in the city and around the country, with many claiming the decision goes against the spirit of the U.S. Constitution. With the passing of this resolution, Hamtramck has become the first U.S. city to make such a move – though the legality of the ban is still unclear.