A Closer Look At Muslim Populations in Dearborn and Hamtramck

Reason Magazine’s Shikha Dalmia highlights what happens to communities when identities are imposed on them.

Jake Neher/WDET

Metro Detroit is home to some of the most diverse communities in the country. Two communities in particular are known for their thriving Muslim populations – Dearborn and Hamtramck.

Just last year, Hamtramck elected the first-ever Muslim-majority city council in the United States. Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia says this event sparked a “national freakout,” which inspired her to take a closer look at the two cities and their Muslim populations for Reason Magazine

Dalmia joins Detroit Today to talk about her article “Muslim in America.”

“The two cities are two different assimilation points on this narrative arc of Muslims in America,” she says. “Hamtramck is a city that tells you what Muslims look like when they first come to America, and Dearborn what they look like once they have sort of a Muslim identity imposed on them from the outside.”

Dalmia notes differences in the ethnic makeup of the two cities: Dearborn’s Muslims being largely Arab, while Hamtramck’s Muslim population is largely Yemeni and Bangladeshi. But she says there are things that connect most Muslims in America, no matter their country of origin.

“They are not trying to accomplish anything different from any other ethnic group,” Dalmia continues. “There is, however, one difference. The big difference is that we’re asking Muslims to assimilate in America at a time where the mainstream culture has become incredibly hostile towards them… The amazing thing is that, despite all of this, if you look at the polls, they have more faith in American institutions than those of us that were born here.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Jake Neher/WDET



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