Hamtramck, that hotbed of homophobia, is back in the news again.
The city council, which consists only of six Muslim men, recently removed two members of the city’s Human Relations Commission for flying a Pride flag on city property.
Pride Source reported last month that the city council voted to ban the Pride flag from being flown on city property at its June 14 meeting, smack dab in the middle of Pride Month. And Hamtramck Homophobe #1, Amer Ghalib, the city’s Muslim mayor, threw salt on those commissioners’ open wounds by describing them on failed governor wannabe Tudor Dixon’s podcast as “militia.”
Talking about seeing the Pride flag flown over a city sidewalk, Ghalib told Dixon, “I was passing by and I saw videotaping and talking pictures and some militia gathering around the flagpole, and I took action.”
Ghalib went on to say that the flag remained up only a couple of hours, and that “the city took it down … but [came] to find out who led this process. It was the chair of the commission and the former mayor [Karen Majewski], a group of politicians that one day used to lead this city, and now they are acting like a militia.”
For their part, those that were a part of flying the flag had equally strong words for the new all-Muslim city government.
“This is the United States of America,” former Commissioner Russ Gordon told Fox 2. “There is a separation of church and state. It’s unconstitutional. This resolution can’t stand. What they contend to reason for the resolution is equality. It’s just the opposite.”
Cathy Stackpoole, the other commissioner removed from her position, told Fox 2, “This is the flag that represents me. Why can’t my flag be up there with the Yemeni flag, and the Bengalis flag, and everybody else in town? It’s baloney.”
Ghalib began serving as mayor in January, as did the all-Muslim council. Hamtramck is now the only Detroit suburb (and quite possibly, the only city in the country) in which all elected officials are Muslim.
After last month’s anti-Pride flag resolution passed, there was a predictable backlash. Just days later a practically petulant Ghalib told Fox 2 that the Hamtramck residents should “be confident that your government will not back down from its positions.” He also pulled out the tired old argument that the LGBTQ+ community is looking for special rights. “[We] will continue to serve everyone equally and not give special privileges to anyone at the expense of anyone,” he said.
In an interview with Michigan Advance, Ghalib showed he had little respect for the separation of church and state. “Muslims are conservative,” he said. “They give high value to their faith and their families and their freedom, the three Fs. But I will say they put faith and family first and, and some people will sacrifice some of their freedoms in order to protect their faith and family structure.”
Sadly, one F is seriously missing from the equation. Fairness. Ghalib has tried to portray the Pride flag ban as an act of “neutrality,” but Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who was one of over 200 people who showed up outside Hamtramck City Hall to protest the decision on June 24, wasn’t buying it.
“In situations of injustice, neutrality always favors the oppressor, never the oppressed,” she said. “And as Martin Luther King Jr. so aptly observed: ‘The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict. Anyone who accepts evil, without protesting against it, is one who cooperates with it.’
“And make no mistake: Homophobia, transphobia, are indeed forms of evil just as much as Islamophobia is,” Nessel concluded.