As reader’s here know, Hamtramck was the first American city to elect majority Muslim council. After Muslims took over that city they proudly proclaimed (on video) “Today we show the Polish and everybody else.”
Author Ali Harb claims there is no “creeping sharia” in a city that is already 20% “Arab” – because wearing hijabs and needing mosques have nothing to do with Islam – and is expected to be 40% “Arab” within five years. At that rate, in less than ten years it will be majority Muslim so in a sense he is right. Sharia is not creeping in Melvindale, it’s sprinting. h/t Dee via How to Lose Your Country or Melvindale’s Arab Americans settling in well:
MELVINDALE — There is not much going on here. An influx of new Arab residents has largely gone unnoticed.
A mosque was built without opposition. No creeping Sharia, no bigotry, no problems.
It is kind of boring, but the people love it.
The city of 10,000 south of Detroit is becoming a new destination for Arab Americans.
Adnan Alyafai lived in Dearborn with his parents until 2007. When he decided to move out with his wife and children, he found Melvindale to be an ideal location. It is close to the rest of his family. The homes were inexpensive; taxes are low and the neighborhoods are safe.
Soon after, his siblings bought homes in the Downriver community. Alyafai’s move is becoming a common one in the Yemeni community. Around 2,000 Arab Americans, mostly Yemenis, have settled in Melvindale over the past eight years.
Alyafai said Yemeni Americans’ positive role in Melvindale in the past few years demonstrates that the fear of Muslims and immigrants is unwarranted.
He acknowledged that some older residents were skeptical of the newcomers when they first started moving in, but as they came to contact with Arab Americans, their concerns were soothed.
“For example, one of my neighbors looked uncomfortable around us,” he said. “One day, his car got stuck in the driveway. My kids and I helped him shovel the car out. During Christmas time, we buy them gifts. Now the perception has changed. Generally, everyone respects everyone here.”
Petra Alsoofy, who has been living in Melvindale for about three years, described the city as a close-knit community.
“It’s a nice small town with a lot of different people in it,” she said.
Alsoofy, an educator at The Arab American National Museum, said she has not witnessed major racial tensions in Melvindale, other than a few individual misunderstandings due to the demographic changes.
She said Yemeni Americans moving to the Downriver town are pursuing the American Dream of owning a home.
“Diversity is always a positive change to any community,” she added. [No evidence is ever provided for this false claim]
Alsoofy called on all residents to cooperate and work as one society to meet the needs of the entire city.
“If the different communities say I am going to do my own thing and not really be engaged, then you can see potential problems,” she said.
Mayor Stacy Striz said the number of Arab Americans in Melvindale has been progressively increasing over the past five years.
“I think that we are about 20 percent Middle Eastern in the city,” she said. Striz said Arab Americans’ settling in the city has been a smooth transition.
Despite the anti-Muslim rhetoric at the national level, the mayor said she is not aware of any religious intolerance from residents.
“Everyone works together and has the same goal in mind of doing what’s best for the community — to make a good, safe place to live in,” she added.
Striz said newer Arab American residents have helped stabilize the city’s economy as taxpayers and business owners.
“It’s great because a lot of businesses are opening up and our houses have people living in them, which is nice,” she said.
Real estate agent Elfatih Ahmed, who owns more than 20 homes in Melvindale, said the city is a great place for property investment.
He said after the housing market collapse in 2008, many Arab American investors bought homes en mass that they are now renting out.
“We did well for the city,” Ahmed said. “But the city has been good to us. I salute the police and the mayor for the way they have welcomed the community.”
Hussein Alkadi, the director of the Melvindale Islamic Center, said Yemenis moving into Melvindale saved the city financially after the housing market collapse.
“The community is a strong base of taxpayers,” Alkadi said. “We are disciplined in paying our taxes. Even city leaders acknowledge that we kept Melvindale afloat.”
He lauded Mayor Striz for welcoming the community and facilitating the establishment of the city’s first mosque in 2011.
Alkadi, who owns a grocery store in Melvindale, has been working to increase civic engagement in the city.
Last year, he was knocking on doors throughout the city to encourage people to vote for Dr. Abdul Ahmed, a Yemeni American chiropractor who ran as a write-in candidate for City Council.
“Although Dr. Ahmed did not win, it send a strong message — ‘we are here,'” he said. “It showed that Arab Americans are starting to have political presence in the city.”
Ali Baleed Almuklani, the executive director of the Yemen American Benevolent Association, said the Yemeni community has grown exponentially over the past few decades.
Almuklani said early Yemeni immigrants were mostly single men who came here to work at factories. According to Almuklani, about 40 years ago Yemeni Americans started settling as families, mostly in Dearborn’s Southend.
Almuklani added that the Yemeni community has not only grown in size, but also in influence as the newer generation put a bigger emphasis on higher education.
He said the Arab presence in Melvindale is an outgrowth of Dearborn’s Yemeni community.
“You will not only see Yemenis in the Southend,” he said. “There are Yemenis in east Dearborn, in west Dearborn, in Hamtramck, in Melvindale.”
Malek Saif, 34, a cofounder of MAAC, is a Melvindale native. He said he is bewildered by the sudden growth of the Arab community in the city.
Saif added that he never thought that there would be a mosque in the city.
“When I was in high school, maybe one girl wore the hijab,” he said. “Now every other girl wears the hijab.”
But Abdul Yehia, whose family moved to the city in 2003, is not as surprised by the growth of the Arab community in Melvindale.
He said the low home prices attracted Arabs during the housing crisis and after a few families moved in, more followed.
“Arabs want to live next to Arabs,” he said. [Why don’t they want to live next to non-Arabs? Probably because what he means is Muslims want to live next to Muslims…not non-Muslims. Looks like Ali Harb was wrong.]
“The sense of community and family is very important to people moving here; and then you have the close proximity to Dearborn.”
Now that there’s an established community, Melvindale has become a purposeful destination for Arab Americans, Yehia said.
The number of Arab Americans is predicted to double in size within the next five years.
In the school, Arab students are doing well, MAAC members say. This year, the valedictorian of the graduating class will be an Arab American.
However, challenges remain. The school district was not prepared to handle a large number of students who are English language learners. To tackle some of the communication challenges, the schools hired a community liaison to relay messages to parents.
“Some kids know little to no English,” Yehia, a substitute teacher, said. “But the schools are taking the time to meet the needs of the students. The schools are heading in the right direction.”
Ahmed said MAAC has reached out to the schools’ superintendent, who was understanding and cooperative.
“It’s a learning process,” Ahmed said. “The good thing is that they are accepting the change; they are embracing it and trying to accommodate the students.”
Yehia said it is early to fully assess the schools, but they are making strides in the right direction.
When this reporter noted that Arab Americans seem to have no complaints in Melvindale, Ahmed said, “Honestly, there’s not much going on here.”
“We are very positive in this community; we appreciate the quietness of Melvindale,” Saif added.
We’ll be adding Melvindale (Little Sana’a?) to our growing list of Muslim enclaves in the U.S. (found on the homepage).