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Bangladeshi American loses Michigan mayoral race

  • Published at 10:18 pm November 8th, 2017
Bangladeshi American loses Michigan mayoral race

Incumbent Karen Majewski has won re-election as mayor in Hamtramck, a small town near Detroit in Michigan by defeating Bangladeshi American councilman Mohammed Hassan in Tuesday's election.

Hassan, 51, an immigrant from Bangladesh, would have been the first Bangladeshi-born mayor of Hamtramck if he won.

Earlier, Hassan claimed that regional and political loyalties carried over from Bangladesh are playing out in Hamtramck politics and could have an impact on his chances.

He said he had met Prime Minister Hasina last year and that wasn’t appreciated by many in the community.

Many in the Bangladeshi community in Hamtramck and nearby areas are supporters of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and they have expressed their support for Majeswki.

Majewski's win means that Hamtramck will continue to have a Polish-American mayor. The city's mayors have always been of Polish descent since it first started electing mayors in 1922.

The Detroit Free Press reported that many Muslims in Hamtramck have said they are being marginalised by city government even though Bangladeshi-Americans and Yemeni-Americans combined make up a majority of residents.

Hassan sought to unite the Yemeni and Bangladeshi Muslim communities, who together make up more than half of the population, but Tuesday, Majewski appeared to get votes from Yemeni Muslims.

Hassan, an engineer who has worked at auto supply companies, said he wanted to reduce spending by merging police and fire departments. Hassan and others had also criticised the continued state oversight of Hamtramck, saying it was undemocratic.

Two years ago, a majority of Hamtramck's six-member council became Muslim majority, three of them immigrants from Bangladesh, one from Yemen. Over the past year, they clashed with the mayor and the other two members on council over several issues.

"They ignore” us when we raise issues, Hassan said last month. “They don’t care."

But critics of Hassan said he and his supporters were focusing on the Bangladeshi community and not the entire city.

Hamtramck has often been in the spotlight nationally, drawing critics who hate Islam and immigrants.

The vote totals indicated Majewski garnered Yemeni-American Muslim votes. Hamtramck was once heavily Polish, but now is only 8.8% Polish, show census figures.