DALLAS, Ore. (KOIN) — A Michigan city recently made history by electing the first-ever Muslim-majority council.
Hamtramck, a historically Polish-Catholic enclave of Detroit, was the first city to have a Muslim-majority population in 2013. The emerging demographic has reshaped the city’s political and cultural atmosphere in recent years.
On November 5, three Muslim candidates won seats in Hamtramck’s six-member council.
But the move didn’t sit well with Dallas Councilman Micky Garus. He wrote a lengthy Facebook post urging Americans to block Islam from getting “a foothold in our government” which, in his words, would “be the end of western civilization.”
The self-proclaimed bigot deleted the post in a matter of hours, but the damage was already done.
In a statement, Garus said the post reflects his “personal opinions and do not represent the City of Dallas its policies or the personal opinions of [his] fellow councilors.”
But residents of the town of nearly 15,000 people say the hateful message behind the post raises a red flag.
“What it breaks down to is a First Amendment issue,” Dallas visitor Laura Stevenson said. “The ‘us’ was founded on being able to worship any way you want.”
Freedom of speech works in the councilor’s favor as well.
“I do not fear the Muslim that lives down the street,” Councilman Garus wrote in the post. “But historically when Muslims gain positions of power in government, the acceptance of traditions and practices such as Sharia Law become the norm.”
Dallas Mayor Brian Dalton assured his constituents the councilman’s personal views have not been reflected in city discussions, formally or informally. He continued by praising the city’s “strong written commitment to non-discrimination in all programs and services.”
The Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the Dallas City Council to repudiate Councilman Garus’ anti-Islamic post.
“When hate speech and false conspiracy theories against an American minority are constantly spread, especially by mainstream, credible persons, and go unchallenged, they create an atmosphere that mobilizes some people to commit hate crimes,” CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari said in a statement.
Bukhari accused the councilman of “Islamaphobia” and condemned his depiction of Muslims as an “evil” race that poses “a grave threat to our culture, country and race.”
“Councilor Garus has the right to hold bigoted views, but such extremist and un-American opinions raise serious questions about his ability to represent constituents of all faiths and backgrounds,” Bukhari said.
He called for city officials to acknowledge the lives and contributions made by the thousands of Muslims currently living in Oregon.