Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Mohammed Hassan of Hamtramck, Michigan, a city of about 28,000 next to Detroit, introduced the resolution which says, in part, that “the government of the City of Hamtramck does not allow any religious, ethnic, racial, political, or sexual orientation group flags to be flown on the City’s public properties, and that only the American flag, and the nations’ flags that represent the international character of our City shall be flown.” That includes state and city flags, other national flags, and the Prisoner of War flag, according to Click on Detroit.
The Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, reported that Hassan told opponents of the proposal at a council meeting this week, “You guys are the ones making problems.”
“Please don’t threaten us. … I’m the elected official. … I’m working for the people, what the majority of the people like.”
“We serve everybody equally with no discrimination, but without favoritism,” Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib added. “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.”
“Hassan and other members of the council said the LGBTQ+ community and others are welcome in Hamtramck but that they need to respect religious freedom,” according to the report. “Some proponents of the resolution said the Pride flag clashes with their faith. Several speakers from Dearborn who were leaders in protests last year against LGBTQ books spoke at the Hamtramck meeting, saying American soldiers sacrificed for the U.S. flag, not the Pride flag.”
In 2021, Ghalib was elected after voicing criticism towards former mayor Karen Majewski for displaying the Pride flag outside city hall. Going back to 2008, conservative Christians in the community formed an alliance with the local Muslim community to oppose a city ordinance that aimed to include the LGBT community as a protected group.
“We want to respect the religious rights of our citizens,” City Councilman Nayeem Choudhury noted at the meeting. “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.”
During the public comments, two women who opposed the Hamtramck resolution banning LGBTQ flags from city property, one wearing a clown nose, gave a sarcastic presentation, then kissed in front of the city council: pic.twitter.com/QFO4ws3i4H
— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) June 14, 2023
Some of the council members also noted that their vote wasn't about discrimination but rather practicality, saying: “If you let one flag in, you’ll have to let all of the flags in.”
Hassan Aoun, a Muslim community leader from Dearborn, Mich., stated, “Pride month, don’t put it down our throats. You can be gay by yourself. … Do not put [the Pride flag] on city property.”
An immigrant from Yemen spoke in favor of the resolution, stating that while the city “respect[s] all nations, cultures, and their flags…we only salute the American flag.”
The man shared his personal experience of immigrating to the United States from Yemen as a child and revealed that he initially held a belief, instilled through his education, that America was an inherently racist and malevolent nation. However, as he grew older and gained more understanding, his perspective evolved.
It was not until he went back to Yemen when he grew up that he saw what he said was “poverty and chaos…at another level” and then fully realized how thankful he was to live in America, where he can “worship [his] creator in peace and tranquility.”
“Unfortunately, many people in our country don’t seem to understand this. They don’t know, or they don’t want to know, what it is like to live in extreme poverty, what it is like to live under severe repression, where there’s no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion,” the man said.