Democratic Candidate for Governor Abdul El-Sayed on Religion and Politics

“A lot has been made about whether or not Michigan can vote for a guy named Abdul.”

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Right now, there are two official candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018. One, former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, is a name that’s well-known in Michigan politics and has been in the mix for some time. The other is a relative newcomer to politics, and a name few Michiganders probably recognize. Former Detroit Health Department Director Abdul El-Sayed admits his is also a name that conjures many emotions and stereotypes for some voters.

“My name’s Abdul,” El-Sayed tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. “A lot has been made about whether or not Michigan can vote for a guy named Abdul. But, hey, they’ve danced to Paula Abdul and they’ve watched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play basketball.” 

“I’m 32, I’m brown, and I’m Muslim,” he says. “I’m never going to escape those facts, because they’re who I am, and I wouldn’t want to.”

Abdul says he’s not afraid to talk about his faith and how it influences his interest in politics.

“I am somebody who believes in faith. And I believe in one God. And I believe that that God commands me to create a more just, more equitable world. And that’s about serving everybody.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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